Scarlet Knights
(Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics)

Scarlet Knights Get First Big Ten Win Holding Off Indiana 66-57

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights hosted the Indiana Hoosiers on a dreary January night at Jersey Mike's Arena. on Tuesday. This year so far has been somewhat of a disappointment for Rutgers, coming into the game 8-6 on the year and 0-3 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers came in at 11-4 and started off hot in the Big Ten with a 3-1 record so it would be a tall task for Steve Pikiell and company. 

Jersey Mike’s Arena (the RAC) has been a huge advantage to the basketball teams at Rutgers dating way back. When my wife and I were undergrads almost 10 years ago the basketball team wasn’t as good as it has been recently but the RAC was still rocking and was a huge advantage. Rutgers did not have that tonight as the State of Emergency barred many from attending. The fans who did show up, however, were loud and motivated the Scarlet Knights all night.

The first half was mostly a back and forth with both teams struggling to hit shots most of the half. Rutgers could not get anything going behind the arc. Up until the final seconds of the half, the Scarlet Knights were 1-10 from the 3-point line with Mawot Mag draining the only deep ball. The turning point of the game for the Scarlet Knights came as time expired when Derek Simpson heaved up a deep three and banked it home. The buzzer beater sent Rutgers into the half with a 30-27 lead and all the momentum.

The 2nd half opened up just as sloppy as the 1st half for both schools. Missed shots, layups and lazy turnovers had both teams look like they were just running sprints. It wasn’t until Austin Williams was able to score off a Mag steal that the scoring in the 2nd half began. While the offense could not get much of anything going, it was the Rutgers defense that powered them all night. 

Mag and the Scarlet Knights forced the Hoosiers to commit 18 turnovers on the night and held them to 39.7% from the field. With defense paving the way, it would seem that this should be a blowout game at the RAC. Rutgers couldn’t quite pull away however down the stretch and had to rely on their free throw shooting. 

Indiana did cut the Scarlet Knights lead to just one point but a 12-0 run from Rutgers kept them in control. Indiana continued to commit fouls sending Rutgers to the line and they answered by making clutch free throws to ice the game 66-57 getting their first Big Ten win. It is a nice win but the Scarlet Knights failed to hit a shot in the last 4:40 of the contest which will not fly moving forward. 

Mawot Mag led the way for Rutgers with 13 points, 8 boards and 4 assists on the night. Five Rutgers players hit double figures, scoring and it was just enough to get by a good Indiana team. The Scarlet Knights travel to Michigan State on Sunday for a matchup with the 9-6 Spartans.