Two of the Rutgers constants a year ago – Geo Baker and a sold out RAC – were not on their side. The Scarlet Knights brand defense was shallow.
Rutgers fought his first high-level opponent of the year. A double-digit lead was gone. Syracuse was three years old.
But like flipping a switch, Steve Pikiell’s team was energized. It held Syracuse over the final 5:40 without a field goal made, and Jacob Young and Ron Harper Jr. . played the role of seamstress in place of the injured Baker and led the 21st. Scarlet Knights passed Orange (79-69) in the ACC Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday evening in the RAC.
Rutgers retreated after falling back by three and staggered 11 consecutive points to climb left six at 2:02. Young started with it, hitting two free throws early in the run and adding a driving layup. Harper topped it off with a three-point game as part of a Monster Night. The two were instrumental in the win, scoring 44 points, 26 from Harper. Montez Mathis was 19 years old when Rutgers improved to 4-0, a year after winning a program record of 18 home games at Piscataway.
Syracuse, starters Buddy Boeheim and Bourama Sidibe, didn’t have enough firepower against their first opponent at the power conference. Alan Griffin of Illinois led the orange with 20 points and Quincy Guerrier added 14.
It was typical of Rutgers early on. Stifling defense played at a snail’s pace. It led 20-10 and held Syracuse to 4 of 18 shots. But a bad hit near half allowed the Orange to sneak in within four with a 6-0 run over the final 3:01.
The momentum carried over to Syracuse, who scored a hit in the first three possessions to pull within a single possession. It went on even after five minutes. Rutgers had the definitive answer, however.
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World News – USA – Rutgers wins Syracuse late
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