That Was a War: I hesitate to go there with sporting events, but this one was a Roman Coliseum level battle. Back and forth all night long. Physical, bruising and tough. It was so much fun to watch. Just when you thought Rutgers was out, they pull off a 10-0 run to shut down the Buckeyes and end with an electric win. This is what I love about college basketball. It wasn’t always pretty and high flying, but it was full of grit and effort. The stuff battles are made of. I loved every minute of it. It came down to pressure free throws and a defense. Just amazing theater. Now excuse me while I figure out how to calm down from this and stop mixing metaphors.
The Defensive Stand: The crowd didn’t like how things were going. My group of season ticket holders I sit with felt the air go out of us with three minutes to go. The clock was stopped and Rutgers was down 8 points. They were having trouble getting stops without fouling. I thought the Buckeyes had worn the Scarlet Knights down, but they didn’t. Digging deep Rutgers got the stops it needed. A Caleb McConnell steal. Cliff Omoruyi block. Another Cliff block. A Caleb block. Turning OSU over. A Ron Harper Jr. block. And a Geo Baker block. Five blocks down the stretch, including a huge one by McConnell when OSU had an open dunk on a break away. The Scarlet Knights are built on defense and toughness. They showed it tonight.
Geo Baker, Take a Bow: The super senior would not be denied tonight. He scored 25 points and had 6 assists. He had no turnovers. He had two blocks and three rebounds. People are going to remember the 25 points, but he did it all tonight. He played smart, efficient and within himself. He knew he didn’t have to just shoot threes, even though he made three of them. He was 4-4 from the line and he got to the rim—something that was sorely missing from his game recently. But the Buckeyes gave him the lane and he took advantage of it. Just a wonderful night for one of the most legendary Scarlet Knights.
Paul Mulcahy and Cliff Omoruyi Continue to Dominate: The junior point guard continues to come into his own. Twelve points and six assists. His ability to find the open man and keep the ball moving to the right people is incredible, but even more impressive is his decision making. He is now learning when it’s time to shoot. Meanwhile, his sophomore big man counterpart is just as incredible. Omoruyi hasn’t missed a shot in two games. His dunks are fast and thunderous. Another day, another game in double digits with 13. He struggled rebounding today—all of the Scarlet Knights did—but when he got the ball, he put it in the basket.
What a fun win.