After the elation of beating a then ranked Ohio State team 12 days ago, Rutgers had 2 lopsided losses on the road and a home loss against a Northwestern team at the bottom half of the conference. Of course not a lot was expected with Nebraska coming to the RAC with a roster featuring multiple players getting looks from NBA scouts.
But Eugene Omoruyi some how returned from a serious knee injury in less than two weeks and provided a huge boost for Rutgers, including the most critical play of the game. With just under two minutes to play and the score tied, Omoruyi battled for a rebound after his own miss and found Myles Johnson under the basket for the go ahead basket and RU never looked back. It was a hustle play and the kind of heart and effort Rutgers needs to win these tight games.
It wasn’t just Omoruyi’s efforts. It was a great team win with everyone contributing. Montez Mathis had another big game joining Geo Baker and Myles Johnson in double figures. But Omuruyi’s effort was the story. He returned from a dislocated knee cap after only three games. His defensive presence and rebounding were sorely missed in Rutgers three losses. Oh yeah, he can score too. He’s Rutgers best all around player and he is needed on the court. The one problem, he’s still not 100% and Coach Pikiell will have to watch his minutes closely.
It was an important win because the last effort at the RAC against Northwestern was a tough one to watch. RU needed a big effort last Friday after a rough road trip and they came up with a lackluster performance. It was the kind of loss that had you wondering where the season is going. To come out with a spectacular effort against a quality opponent was critical for this team. Coach Pikiell had an excellent game plan against Nebraska’s multiple zones and it was executed by his players. Easily his best coaching since he arrived on the banks.
The tough schedule continues and so will the ups and downs but this win makes two things clear, the team is growing and Omoruyi is the heart of it.