By Matt Sugam
Despite overcoming a 13 point second half deficit, Rutgers (12-5, 3-3 Big East) was defeated by No. 20 Notre Dame (15-4, 3-2 Big East) 69-66 as a controversial charge call was made on Eli Carter with less than two seconds left in the game. Here’s what to take away from the game:
1. Missed opportunity
With a win, Rutgers would have been 4-2 in the Big East with a pair of wins over Top 25 teams. It’s a win that would have turned some heads and had the rest of the country thinking Rutgers was a legitimate team that could make the NCAA Tournament. Not to mention garner a few Top 25 votes in this week’s poll. They can still do all that in the coming weeks, it just won’t be this Monday.
2. Stat stuffing Miller
Dane Miller had 7 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, three blocks and a steal. If Rutgers can get that kind of balanced performance from Miller on a nightly basis, this team can be very good. The 6-foot-6, 215 pound senior wing is a dynamic playmaker that can take a game over in multiple ways, and as he goes, so goes Rutgers.
3. Cooley’s dominance
Miller said before the game that Cooley was a walking 20 and 20 if you don’t contain and rustle him. They didn’t and Cooley had his way with Rutgers’ bigs. The 6-foot-9, 246 pound forward had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. His presence inside overwhelmed the Scarlet Knights.
Eli Carter appears to officially be out of his slump, going 9-of-15 from the field for 20 points.
Head coach Mike Rice with play-by-play broadcaster Chris Carlin and color commentator Dick Lloyd on Rutgers Radio Network’s post-game interview:
“We have a phrase ‘do your job’ and you can’t waiver in doing that job, whatever it is. Is it hedging, is it going under, is it rebounding? Whatever it may be, we waited too long to have that passion and that intensity.”
“The Rutgers teams in the past may have folded in a place like this.”
On Carter’s shot at the end, where he appeared to get fouled but an offensive foul was called: “I thought he got hit twice. I thought both feet were in the paint and he got hit twice before it happened, but those are the breaks and it shouldn’t have even been that close. We should have had better possessions before that.”
“I do take away some positives. I do take away the fight. Our zone was so much better than it ever has [been].”
“They’re a Top 20 team and that’s what they do. They didn’t blink themselves.”
“You just can’t get down to a quality team by 13 points and fight back, but they did have fight in them and I’m very proud of that.”