In a match-up of two athletic teams, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights put enough together to defeat the 15th ranked Seton Hall Pirates. A valiant second half effort pushed the Scarlet Knights to their 10th victory of the season. Ultimately, Rutgers ended up taking the game by a final score of 71-65.
Despite being down 10 at halftime, Rutgers was able to assemble a gritty second half to steal this victory at home. The upset no doubt provides some confidence as Big Ten play approaches, an area Rutgers has been abysmal in.
There are more than three things we learned today, but here are the key points:
What We Learned
1. Corey Sanders is still “that dude”
With the emergence of Geo Baker, Sanders has been relatively overlooked by the casual fan. Many will recall that he was touted as one of the top players in the conference coming into this season. He proved his worth to the Scarlet Knights today.
Besides scoring a game high 22 points, Sanders was incredibly efficient. He shot 56 percent from the field and made all of his free throws. If there has been one knock on Sanders it is his lack of efficiency shooting the ball. Clearly, he silenced the critics for the time being.
However, the most impressive area of Sanders’ game today was his crunch time scoring. He scored six huge points down the stretch, including two free throws to give the Scarlet Knights the lead. That lead was never relinquished by Rutgers. Sanders also hit some key jump shots off of screens that electrified The RAC and bolstered the Rutgers lead.
Surely, we will not forget about Corey Sanders after his performance today in the upset win.
2. Deshawn Freeman plays like Charles Barkley
You may have read that and thought I was going to say Freeman is as good as Barkley was. However, that is not my argument, the comparison solely relies in the brand of the basketball. Freeman finished today’s game with 12 points and 16 rebounds, five of those being offensive rebounds.
The reason I compare Freeman to Barkley is their size. While Freeman stands 6-foot-7, 227 pounds, Barkley was 6-foot-6 and a relative 252 pounds. Yet, they both play at the power forward spot, despite being vastly under the usual height for that position. What makes them similar is their prowess for rebounding and their frames, as both are completely immovable objects in the paint.
Freeman is also somewhat reckless when he drives to the lane or moves the ball in transition. While Barkley was also wild going at the basket, he was usually able to hammer down dunks over his defender. Freeman may not have that capability yet, but he certainly shows glimpses of “Sir Charles” like ability.
3. Rutgers’ physicality will make them a tough Big Ten opponent
When it comes down to it, we will ask “How did Rutgers win this game?”. In my opinion, it was their physical game plan. They went after Seton Hall, driving to the basket and crashing the glass afterwards. This led to the Scarlet Knights shooting 34 free throws by game’s end.
We have seen this type of game plan from Rutgers before, and it has frustrated teams at times. Today, they were able to execute that plan for a full 40 minutes which drove Seton Hall up a wall in frustration. If they continue to use this style of play, they will steal a few Big Ten games this season.
Rutgers now has a 10 win season locked in after today’s big win. They move forward to a contest with Stony Brook on Friday. As Big Ten play begins at the beginning of January, the Scarlet Knights will most likely have 12 wins on their resume heading into the conference schedule.
If anything, this Rutgers team is far better than in previous years. They may not be Big Ten champions by year’s end, but they will be nuisance to the team’s looking down at them from atop the Big Ten ladder.