I've been starting to feel a bit like a military officer who is lost in the wilderness with his soldiers and is writing increasingly desperate (and insane) entires in his journal, "morale is starting to wane amongst the troops. I think I just saw one eat a piece of tree bark." Since February ninth, there has been only one win to report on between Maryland and Rutgers, and quite honestly, they should take into account how much more fun it is for me to write about wins than it is about losses. GET IT TOGETHER, EDDIE JORDAN AND MARK TURGEON! On, what I think, is a related side note, when you Google "rutgers basketball head coach" this is the image that appears:
I don't know who that is, but the fact that it isn't the head coach of the Rutgers basketball team must have something to do with their poor record this season. Anywho, this week there were multiple exciting games, including a thirst-slaking victory from the Eddie Jordan lead (I think) Scarlet Knights! Let's get to some recaps.
After a brutal stretch of games against ranked opponents (four out of their last five), Rutgers (11-18, 5-11 AAC) had two games last week more at their speed. Their speed is admittedly slow, but never you mind! To start off the week, Rutgers traveled to Orlando to match up with UCF (11-16, 3-13 AAC), a team they had already beaten this year! Everything looked great for the Scarlet Knights too. They were winning by nine points at halftime, and even built that lead up to 15 points in the second half. But as we've come to see in these past few months, there is nothing that this Rutgers team can't mess up. A combination of only shooting 10 free throws (and making five), allowing UCF to shoot 30 free throws (and make 19), and turning the ball over an astonishing 17 times lead to a second half collapse against one of the worst teams in the conference (UCF is 2-8 in their last 10). Myles Mack lead the team in points, assists, and turnovers (19, 3, 5 respectively) so I don't know what to think about his performance. Junior Etou had 14 points and nine rebounds, and JJ Moore was a model of efficiency, scoring eight points on 3-of-12 shooting (2-of-10 from beyond the arc). Let's move on.
The second game of the week was a much more pleasant affair for Rutgers. The Knights returned home to play USF (12-17, 3-13 AAC) and prevailed 74-73, thanks to a last second shot from Kadeem Jack. This game was pretty much the exact opposite of the UCF game. Here, Rutgers was down by nine at halftime, by 15 at one point in the second half, and came back to win. FLIP THAT SCRIPT, RUTGERS! In what I'm starting to sense is a correlation (turnovers bad...free throws good), Rutgers only turned the ball over four times against USF and shot 20-of-22 from the free throw line and most importantly, WON! Jack had 20 points, three rebounds, and three blocks to pace the Scarlet Knights, while JJ Moore added 20 points of his own and seven rebounds. A far better showing for Rutgers, and hopefully some changes that will stick with the team for the rest of the year.
We already discussed Maryland's (15-14, 7-9 ACC) heartbreaking defeat at the hands of fruit in last week's edition, so let's look at their only other game, against Clemson (18-10, 9-7 ACC). A disturbing trend has taken hold of Maryland's season. A trend of being a few possessions away from winning, and then not doing that. The Terps lost to Clemson 77-73 in double overtime on Sunday in another heartbreaking game. Maryland didn't score a point in the final five minutes of game that went into overtime. If my math is correct, one point in those five minutes would have sealed the victory for them (Editor request: PLEASE CHECK MATH). Seth Allen had 20 points and six rebounds; Dezmine Wells had 16 points, eight rebounds, and three assists; Evan Smotrycz had 19 points and six rebounds; and REBOUNDING MACHINE CHARLES MITCHELL had six points and 15 man-sized rebounds. Those are all nice games, but leave Maryland fans chalking up moral victories instead of actual ones. Maryland is, arguably, a handful of possessions away from beating UConn, George Washington (who is much better than you think, look it up, they beat Creighton), Pitt, Duke, Syracuse, and Clemson this year. I know it won't be much solace to Terp fans, but this year has been a good learning experience and will only benefit the team (who loses no one of consequence) next year.
Welp, another week in the books. Rutgers is at UConn and ends the regular season at home against #11 Cincinnati, while Maryland's final two regular season ACC games ever are at home against Va Tech and ACC regular season champion #12 UVA.