Rutgers came into the weekend needing a win — and it did not look promising pregame.
With Mawot Mag already out for the season, Rutgers lost Caleb McConnell in warm ups to back spasms. Down two starters, the Scarlet Knights needed a big-time performance from someone. Enter Cam Spencer.
Spencer scored 19 of his 22 points in the first quarter, hitting his first six shots and five from three-point range, during Rutgers’ 58-57 win over Wisconsin at Kohl Center in Madison.
The Scarlet Knights (17-10, 9-7) entered the weekend coming off their worst loss of the season at home to Nebraska. Early on, the defense looked like it did last time out against the Huskers but Spencer led an offensive charge that shot 57% in the first half. Rutgers is now 3-6 in true road games and gives them an important resume builder for the NCAA Tournament.
In a game that featured 13 lead changes, Rutgers was able to make plays in the final two minutes. Trailing by three with 2:15 remaining, the Scarlet Knights got dunks from Cliff Omoruyi and Aundre Hyatt to take the lead. Wisconsin would go scoreless for the remainder of the contest.
After a back-and-forth first half, which featured more scoring than anticipated, the game turned into the defensive struggle that many expecting coming in. Over the first 10 minutes of the second half, teams combined to shoot 7-for-33 from the field.
Rutgers would take a 50-45 lead with just under eight minutes remaining but the Badgers would not go quietly on their home floor. Wisconsin went on a 12-4 run to jump back in front with 3:36 remaining. From that moment on, Rutgers kept the Badgers off the scoreboard and was able to make the necessary plays down the stretch.
Rutgers fans, it is time to breathe a collective sigh of relief. The Scarlet Knights will be back in action on Thursday night when Michigan comes to Jersey Mike’s Arena.