Huge win for Rutgers last night, can’t understate the difference between 4-2 and 3-3 in the Big Ten right now. Thoughts:
Defense Travels: Both offenses got off to hot starts, but quickly cooled down as the defenses settled into the game. Rutgers held Northwestern to 62 points in Evanston and shut them down at the end allowing the Scarlet Knights to finish on a 7-0 run to win the game. Winning games on the road is hard, and it’s easy for an offense to get rattled, but if the defense stays strong Rutgers will always be competitive.
Cam Spencer in the Clutch: For the second straight game on the road, Spencer hit a dagger of a 3 to win the game. Not only did he have that huge bucket, but Spencer scored a season high 23 points on 6 made threes. He also brought his ever-consistent defense tonight as he had the tough task of guarding one of the better guard combos in the conference. Without Spencer, Rutgers doesn’t win tonight and is a far worse team then they are. He has been one of the most impactful transfers in the Big Ten, if not the country.
Cliff’s Offensive Struggles Continue: For the third straight game, Omoruyi failed to score in double digits. The center had just 4 points on 2-6 shooting. His defense and rebounding has stayed solid, but it remains to be seen how long Rutgers can survive without any major offensive contributions from Omoruyi. He needs to finish more consistently at the rim like he has in the past, but also be more aggressive on offense. As defenses begin to key more on Mulcahy and Spencer, there will be more chances for Omoruyi to have a 1 on 1 matchup in the post or to cut to the hoop for easy lobs. He needs to take advantage of those opportunities to help Rutgers offense become more efficient as the season goes on.
Offensive Strengths/Weaknesses: Free throw shooting remained a strength for Rutgers last night as they hit on 8 of 10 foul shots for an 80% clip. Continuing to keep that up will be huge for winning close games down the stretch. Rutgers also scored at a high percentage from beyond the arc. They went 11-18 to make 61.1% of threes, but finished just 42.6% from the field overall. This points to a concerning trend of bad two-point shooting. Rutgers has struggled finishing at the rim all year, and they need to correct that badly. If they can’t get the easy buckets, the Scarlet Knights won’t win these close games every time. Credit to a good Northwestern defense, but Rutgers has to be better.
Enjoy the win Rutgers fans, we’re 4-2 and sitting in a very good spot heading into the rematch with Ohio State. If they can even up the season series with the Buckeyes, Rutgers will be right in the mix to win the Big Ten.