With Rutgers leading Michigan 13-3 to start the game, the opportunity to deliver a knockout blow was on the table. And then the Wolverines responded as Cliff Omoruyi and Paul Mulcahy were on the bench. The Scarlet Knights got tight and never recovered. It resulted in a very disappointing 58-45 loss, the team’s second straight defeat at the RAC.
I wrote that Rutgers should expect Michigan’s best on Thursday in what was a must win for the program. It was arguably the best defensive performance of the Wolverines season.
A key moment in the game was when Paul Mulcahy converted a three-point play the hard way to cut the Michigan lead to 40-38 with 10:00 left to play. The Wolverines rattled off a 18-5 run before Derek Simpson scored in the closing seconds. RU made just three field goals in the final ten minutes of the game.
The strange part of the game was that Rutgers was good defensively. They held Michigan 15 points below their scoring average in Big Ten play and shot just 41% from the floor. Their defense made it a much closer game than it should have been.
The key to the loss was the inability of RU to execute on the offensive end. They shot just 38% from the floor, were just 5 of 18 on layups and 5 of 16 from the foul line. Rutgers committed 13 turnovers, while Michigan had 10. However, the key was that the Wolverines held a 17-3 advantage in points off of turnover. They also only had 6 offensive rebounds and 7 second chance points.
Cam Spencer led RU with 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting along with 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
Cliff Omoruyi had another double double with 10 points on 5 of 10 shooting along with 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Rutgers was -11 when Omoruyi was off the floor in this game.
The Scarlet Knights are now 17-11 overall and 9-8 in Big Ten play. Their KenPom ranking fell from No. 27 to No. 33 after their second worst offensive efficiency rating of the season.
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