Piscataway, N.J. – Winning of the road in the Big Ten Conference has been tough for almost every team. Doing it at Rutgers has been impossible so far.
Akwasi Yeboah had 14 points and seven rebounds and the surprising Scarlet Knights pushed their home record to 12-0 with a 59-50 victory over Indiana on Wednesday night.
“We have great fans and the atmosphere is amazing,” Yeboah said. “We just kind of made it a tradition to win at home. It’s just a different energy at home. When you talk about the importance of winning at home, you win your home games and you are set.’’
This has been a totally unexpected season for Rutgers (13-4, 4-2 Big Ten). It was picked to finish 12th in the league’s preseason poll and now it is in position to post its first winning season since 2005-06, the last time it went to a postseason tournament.
Indiana coach Archie Miller called the Scarlet Knights one of the best teams in the league after seeing the Hoosiers (13-4, 3-3) held to a season low points total.
“They are impressive with their effort level, especially in here, they have this place charged up,” said Miller, whose team was coming off a win over then-No. 11 Ohio State. “This is a difficult game. We didn’t handle the environment early.’’
Rutgers used a 24-6 spurt bridging the end of the first half and the start of the second and a tenacious defense in taking control. During the game-deciding run, it got points from eight players, with none scoring more than four points. It turned a 22-21 first-half deficit into a 45-28 lead and the game was over.
“Winning is fun,” said guard Geo Baker, who returned to the lineup after missing three games with a broken left thumb and put an exclamation point on the win with a late one-handed dunk.
“You can’t really have fun going to parties, that’s temporary,” Baker added. “Winning is forever. That’s something we want to prove. We want to win every single game.”
Caleb McConnell added 10 points for Rutgers, which shot almost 47 percent from the field.
Justin Smith had 15 points to lead Indiana. Aljami Durham added 10 points and Joey Brunk had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hoosiers shot 31.7 percent from the field (19 of 60), including 2 of 19 from long range. They did not make a 3-pointer until Durham hit one with 5:18 to play. The last time Indiana did not hit a 3-pointer in a game was Feb. 25, 2010 against Wisconsin.
“The game is dictated by the team that sets the rules,” Miller said. “Rutgers set the rules right at the tap. We had to adjust and fight through it. The game was fast on offense for us. They worked. They pressured. Their big guys did a good job of making things difficult around the rim. We got very few easy ones.’’
Rutgers opened the game with a 12-0 run only to see the Hoosiers come back and take a 22-21 lead on a layup by Smith.
A 3-pointer by Ron Harper Jr. put Rutgers in front for good, and Jacob Young followed with a layup off a steal. Freshman Paul Mulcahy added a 3-pointer to stretch the margin to 29-22 and the Scarlet Knights went to the locker room ahead 31-24.
McConnell hit from inside to open the second half and Yeboah nailed a 3-pointer to start a 14-4 run that put the game out of reach.
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(At) Minnesota 75, Penn State 69: Daniel Oturu had his 12th double-double of the season with 26 points and 14 rebounds, Marcus Carr added 27 points and Minnesota came from behind to beat Penn State 75-69 on Wednesday night.
Carr added nine assists and six rebounds for the Gophers, who trailed by eight points early in the second half before the Nittany Lions’ offense went cold. Penn State missed 13 straight shots at one point and went without a field goal for almost 12 minutes as Minnesota went on a 16-5 run.
Myreon Jones and Seth Lundy each had 15 points for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three in a row.
The Gophers beefed up their nonconference schedule this season to improve their tournament standing and prepare them for Big Ten play. The maneuver has paid off with Minnesota beating No. 19 Michigan on Sunday and outlasting Penn State, which was ranked before back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Wisconsin.
The Gophers also have beaten No. 21 Ohio State this season and lost in double overtime at Purdue.
With the Nittany Lions shooting over 60% from the field until their drought, Minnesota stayed close. Payton Willis tied the game on the opening possession of the second half before Penn State used a 10-2 run to take control with Lamar Stephens scoring six points during the stretch.
Stephens’ jumper at 17:02 of the second half ended the run and the Nittany Lions didn’t hit a field goal again until Myreon Jones connected with 5:28 to play.
In its previous two losses, Penn State shot a combined 39 of 113 for 34.5% against Rutgers and Wisconsin.
The Gophers were 22 of 27 from the free-throw line and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 47-31.
(At) No. 2 Baylor 68, Iowa State 55: Davion Mitchell had 17 points, scoring just before and after halftime as No. 2 Baylor started stretching its lead, and the Bears got their 13th win in a row.
Baylor (14-1) is the only Big 12 team to make it through the first four conference games without a loss.
Jared Butler had 19 points and five assists to lead the Bears, whose only loss came against Washington in Alaska the first week of the season. They had road wins last week at No. 23 Texas Tech and No. 6 Kansas, the latter its first ever at Allen Fieldhouse.
Rasir Bolton and Prentiss Nixon both had nine points for Iowa State (8-8, 1-3 Big 12).
(At) Alabama 83, No. 4 Auburn 64: Auburn Kira Lewis Jr. scored 25 points and Alabama handed Auburn its first loss of the season.
The Crimson Tide (9-7, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) led wire-to-wire over their in-state rival. The Tigers (15-1, 3-1) had a miserable shooting night and left No. 7 San Diego State as the nation’s last unbeaten team.
Lewis scored 17 points in the second half for Alabama. He was 8 of 14 from the field and made 8 of 9 free throws.
Herbert Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Alex Reese scored 13 points and James Bolden had 11 for the Tide.
Auburn had won 27 of 28 games dating back to last season’s Final Four run.
Isaac Okoro led the Tigers with 13 points.
Seton Hall 78, (at) No. 5 Butler 70: Myles Powell scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half and Romaro Gill matched his career high with 17 points to lead No. 18 Seton Hall back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
The Pirates (13-4, 5-0 Big East) closed the game on a 13-4 run to win their seventh in a row. They are the only team still unbeaten in league play.
Quincy McKnight had 11 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.
Kamar Baldwin had 19 points and six assists to lead the Bulldogs (15-2, 3-1). Jordan Tucker had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Butler’s six-game winning streak ended.
(At) No. 9 Florida State 54, Virginia 50: Devin Vassell scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in the final seconds, and Florida State beat Virginia.
Anthony Polite came off the bench to drill four 3-pointers for the Seminoles (15-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won eight straight and 15 of their last 16.
Mamadi Diakite scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting for Virginia (11-5, 3-3), which turned it over 18 times and made just 21 shots from the floor.
Virginia, the defending national champion, has lost three straight games.
(At) South Carolina 81, No. 10 Kentucky 78: Freshman Jermaine Couisnard hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded and South Carolina rallied from 14 points down in the second half to stun Kentucky.
Couisnard had a career-high 26 points, including his game-winner that banked in for the Gamecocks (9-7, 1-2 Southeastern Conference). When it went through the net, Couisnard and his teammates ran around the court in celebration as the fans errupted in cheers.
Moments earlier, Immanuel Quickly banked home a shot with 4.1 seconds to go that tied things at 78. Quickly led Kentucky (12-4, 3-1) with 20 points.
South Carolina ended a three-game losing streak.
(At) Temple 65, No. 16 Wichita State 53: Quinton Rose scored 19 points and Temple used a strong defensive performance to upset Wichita State.
Jake Forrester and Monty Scott each chipped in 11 points for the Owls (10-6, 2-3 American Athletic Conference), who snapped a three-game losing streak while defeating a ranked opponent for the 13th consecutive season.
James Echenique scored 20 points and Jamarius Burton added 16 for the Shockers (15-2, 3-1), who had won nine straight.
The Owls, under first-year coach Aaron McKie, clamped down on the Shockers. They held Wichita State to a season low in points while forcing them to shoot 30.2% (19-for-63) from the field and 14.3% (3-for-21) from 3-point range.
(At) Georgetown 83, No. 25 Creighton 80: Omer Yurtseven had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Mac McClung scored 19 points and Georgetown beat Creighton.
The Hoyas (12-6, 2-3 Big East) went on a 13-2 run early in the second half and never looked back as coach Patrick Ewing picked up his first win over the Bluejays in five tries. The Hoyas snapped a five-game losing streak to Creighton and beat a ranked opponent for the second time this season.
Marcus Zegarowski led the Bluejays (13-5, 2-3) with 20 points while Denzel Mahoney added 19 off the bench.
(At) Central Michigan 66, Ball State 39: Kyra Bussell scored 15 and Molly Davis 14 for Central (11-4, 4-0 MAC), which pulled away with 20-5 advantage in the third quarter. Ball State is 11-5 and 3-1.
(At) Eastern Michigan 80, Miami (Ohio) 53: Autumn Hudson and Areanna Combs each scored 14 for Eastern (8-7, 3-1) which got out to a great start with a 29-8 first-quarter advantage. Miami is 8-8 and 1-3.
(At) Western Michigan 73, Ohio 72: Leighah Amori-Wood had 17 points and six rebounds, including a layup with seven seconds left that won it for Western (10-5, 3-1). Breanna Mobley had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Western. Ohio is 9-6 and 2-2.