For the first time since 1991, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights took the floor for an NCAA tournament game. Many of the Scarlet Knight faithful made the trip to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, where 4,500 fans were permitted to attend. Rutgers chants were raining down all game, and it gave the Scarlet Knights a spark. This was a historic moment for Rutgers and their fans, and the team delivered when it mattered most. The 10th seed Scarlet Knights played with heart and soul throughout the game, eventually resulting in a 60-56 win over the 7 seed Clemson Tigers.
Ugly First Half
The first half of tonight’s contest was not pretty. In the first half, Rutgers shot 2-10 from the 3-point line and turned the ball over 10 times. The Scarlet Knights also handled the ball terribly. Clemson did not start off well at all either. Both teams were off to terrible starts offensively but the defenses remained strong. Rutgers, in particular, played energetically on defense, bringing the intensity. Scarlet Knights center Myles Johnson had two blocks in the first half. The first half was mostly a back and forth affair, as there were 9 lead changes in the half. Caleb McConnell, Ron Harper. Jr and Geo Baker led the way for Rutgers on offense in the first. Clemson guard Clyde Trapp took it the distance for a buzzer-beater layup to close out the half. Heading into the second half of play, the Tigers had a 26-23 lead over the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers Takes The Lead For The Win
Rutgers started the second half on a really strong note, going 4-8 from beyond the arc and hitting 10 out of their first 17 shot attempts of the half. The Scarlet Knights just absolutely took over halfway through the half, going on a 16-2 run to take a 50-39 lead. McConnell scored half of the Rutgers points during the run, and Jacob Young contributed 5 points. Clemson answered back rather quickly though, scoring 10 straight points to make it a one-point game with 5:31 to go. Rutgers all of a sudden went completely ice-cold, coming up empty-handed on five straight possessions.
A three-point play from Clyde Trapp tied the game up with 4:32 to go, setting up a dramatic finish. Rutgers took the lead back, but with two minutes to go Clemson closed the small gap and made it a two-point game. With 40 seconds to go, Clemson forward Aamir Simms got called for a traveling violation, which cost the Tigers big time. Geo Baker hit a huge layup with 10.8 seconds to go, and that pretty much ended it there, putting Rutgers up by 4. Jacob Young dribbled the ball out for Rutgers with 4 seconds to go, to end the game. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights won their first NCAA tournament game in 38 years, upsetting the Clemson Tigers 60-56.
To the joy of the Rutgers fanbase, the Scarlet Knights are advancing to the round of 32. Rutgers will be going up against 2 seeded Houston on Sunday from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The tip-off time is yet to be determined. Enjoy the win New Jersey, you all deserve this one.