Rutgers played like a team that knew it could not lose on Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights welcomed Nebraska to Jersey Mike’s Arena looking to avoid another Quad 4 loss. This time, it would all but eliminate Rutgers from NCAA Tournament contention. Instead, Rutgers stepped up and dominated its way to a 93-65 victory.
Nebraska (6-10, 0-5) entered the weekend ranked 206th in the NCAA’s NET rankings. Early in the season, Rutgers dropped a game to Lafayette and it could not afford another blemish on the resume.
Rutgers (9-5, 3-1) shot 58.3% from the field, won the rebounding battle 37-21, and scored 25 points off turnovers. Nine Scarlet Knights scored in this one, led by 29 points from Ron Harper Jr.
The tide seemed to turn for the Scarlet Knights midway through the first half — and it was because of a Dean Reiber three-pointer. This gave Rutgers a 20-16 lead and they were able to take off from there.
Rutgers got major contributions in the first half from Reiber and Aundre Hyatt. The two combined for 15 points over the first 20 minutes as the Scarlet Knights built a 44-31 lead heading into the break. Reiber finished with 10 points while Hyatt added 13 of his own.
Unlike their previous game against Michigan, the Scarlet Knights did not light it up from deep to build a lead. Instead, they scored 28 points in the paint and grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the first half. And of course, it helps when Ron Harper Jr. scores 15 points, including six in the final three minutes, to set the pace.
The Scarlet Knights finished 13-for-14 from the free throw line. Harper Jr. knocked down all 10 of his attempts. Paul Mulcahy continues to shine at the top of the offense as he flirted with a triple-double with 10 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.
This was the most complete game that Rutgers has played all season and many got involved. They shot well again from three at 56% with 10 makes behind the arc. The stretch of winnable games continues for the Scarlet Knights as they travel to the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday night to take on Penn State.
Rutgers has now won four games in a row and seems to be finding its stride. There were some key pieces lost in the offseason but this group of Scarlet Knights is finding their role and doing it well. Like a good team should, Rutgers handled its business against a team they had to beat and left no doubt.