Rutgers has beaten Penn State and now sits at 14-6 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten. Thoughts:
Dominant Defensive Performance: Rutgers won by 20, due to giving up just 45 points to Penn State. It never allowed the Nittany Lions to get comfortable offensively, and the Scarlet Knights’ defense was impressive all around. Although Rutgers had just five steals and forced only seven Penn State turnovers, they constantly forced PSU into low-percentage looks. Penn State finished 33.3% from the field and 4-26 (15.4%) from three. This is a team that came into this game third in the B1G in field goal percentage, and first in the conference in three-point percentage. A strong-shooting team like the Nittany Lions can be dangerous, but Rutgers kept them stone-cold all night.
Multifaceted Offense: Rutgers had four players score in double figures. Cliff had 16, Caleb had 10, Paul had 12, and Aundre Hyatt had 14 off the bench. On a night where Cam Spencer was off once again, having so many different options offensively was huge en route to a blowout win. Everybody picked up the slack and made it tough on the Penn State defense. Getting Omoruyi early paint touches was key to creating open looks for shooters later in the game. Hyatt was absolutely massive in the second half, and really put the game away for the Scarlet Knights. Mawot Mag also chipped in with eight points, and Woolfolk had two to round out the scoring.
Tough, Pikiell Basketball: Rutgers played “grown man basketball” according to Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry — and he’s right. Rutgers played harder and tougher than the Nittany Lions tonight. A 43-26 edge on the boards certainly played a role in this facet of the game. Rutgers was strong in the paint as well tonight, as they held a 34-18 advantage in points in the paint. Mulcahy’s backdown moves and Cliff’s touch in the post tonight were huge in this area. Mag also grabbed seven boards and played aggressively and tough on both ends of the floor. It’s been a lot of fun to watch him develop into the great defender and high-energy player he’s become.
Connected: This Rutgers team is succeeding on the court, but that’s because of a much more important idea that begins off of it. This is the most connected team Rutgers has ever had. Aundre Hyatt set it in his post-game interview, this is the most connected team he’s been a part of. The Scarlet Knights are comfortable with each other, not only as basketball players, but as people, and that is all too often overlooked. Rutgers has built this success on and off the court.
Free Throws: Another good performance from the line as Rutgers went 15-19 on foul shots for 78.9%.
Rutgers is back at it again on Sunday in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes, going 2-0 this week would be massive for Big Ten standings implications. For now, 6-3 will get the job done just fine.