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Unfinished Business: 4 Thoughts on Rutgers 59-58 Win Over Penn State

Penn State v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Rutgers grinded one out—one that you originally thought was going to be a laugher—here on senior day.

Four Thoughts:

Nothing Comes Easy For These Guys: It looked like they were going to cruise. They were up 15 in the second half. The RAC was rocking with one of the best atmospheres of the year. But then Penn State came roaring back as Sam Sessoms became tough to guard and Seth Lundy got hot from deep. I don’t know how good Micah Shrewsberry’s recruiting is right now, but if they continue to get players, they are going to be very good very soon. Meanwhile, Rutgers missed free throws and their offense went cold. But once Penn State tied it, Rutgers found ways to get to the hoop and get fouled. They didn’t make all of them, but they made enough and survived one of the worst inbound passes I’ve seen. They dodged a bullet to get to 12-8 in the Big Ten. Who would have thought it? This game ended exactly the way you would expect it to for this team.

These Guys Are So Easy to Like: Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr., Caleb McConnell, Ralph Gonzales-Agee, and Luke Nathan—stand up and take a bow. These players, particularly the first three, brough Rutgers to relevance and beyond. They played tonight like they love this place more than anywhere else. Ron Harper scored 15. Geo Baker had his key assists. Caleb McConnell hustled on defense all afternoon. They found a way to survive. And, in the postgame, when the five seniors addressed the crowd, Geo put it best: “Would you expect any different?”

It Doesn’t Get Easier: Now that the regular season is over, Rutgers is either finishing 4th or 5th in the Big Ten depend on the outcome of tonight’s Iowa Illinois game. And then the Big Ten Tournament looms. While the Scarlet Knights have a very good NCAA resume, it is also a very confusing one. It would behoove Rutgers to win their first round game at least and right now it seems like everyone is playing well. Even Nebraska. Don’t expect a cake walk for the Scarlet Knights.

Easily the Best Atmosphere of the Year: The fans didn’t come to play, they came to celebrate and bury the Nittany Lions. It started in the tear-filled pregame ceremony (including a cool “Dy-lan Har-per” chant from the student section) and crested during the defensive stands during the game. I don’t know who could hear any plays being called out during the game it was that loud. Think about how remarkable that is from where the program was just six years ago. From being able to hear a pin drop to not being able to hear the person next to you. Going forward, these are the crowds the RAC can expect.