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Rutgers 79, Syracuse 69: Ron Harper Jr. steals the night as Orange falter down stretch

3-0 was nice while it lasted.

Syracuse v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In a perfect world if two undefeated teams go up against each other, there is no underdog. Rutgers came into this matchup with Syracuse as the 21st nationally ranked team in the country. In the end, Rutgers defeated Syracuse 79-69 inside the RAC and ended the Orange’s undefeated record.

Before tonight Ron Harper averaged 21 PPG and 7.7 REBS. Prior to this Syracuse beat Rutgers 20 times out of the last 24 times they played in the Big East. With Buddy Boeheim out and Bourama Sidibe out we knew there was not going to be true big. On paper this game set it out for the Orange to be underdogs. Well of course that’s unless Jim Boeheim and this Syracuse team would have something to say about that. The Knights had no intentions of losing their 3-0 start to the season just like the Orange so let’s see how everything went down.

Syracuse v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The game started off with Syracuse finding difficulty in scoring the ball. Marek Dolezaj rose to the occasion and scored all of Orange’s 7 points to begin. Ron Harper Jr. was Rutgers’ main guy as expected. He scored 15 points in the first half and missed only three shots. It got worse when the Orange couldn’t finish defensive possessions out. They allowed 8 offensive rebounds in the first half.

At halftime, Rutgers were up 34-30. Dolezaj led the team in scoring in the first half with 9 points. After the first half I said to myself, “If they can create more deflections and steals in the second half and work on containing Ron Harper Jr, they can get out of this with a win”

The Orange came out in the second half with more energy. They went 8-15 on their first shots of the half, actually managed to turnover the ball only twice, and as if things couldn’t get better they forced four turnovers in less than 10 minutes. Boeheim’s squad still had to do more if they wanted to defeat Rutgers.

Quincy Guerrier showed off his improved shooting in the second half knocking down two threes. He made three overall. Alan Griffin followed by tying the game 55-55 for the first time since the first half. Griffin did it with 9:00 left in the second half.

Syracuse v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With the lead Kadary Richmond, or should I say Kooks, sparked something for the Orange. He was playmaking in the paint and defending well, recording 5 steals.

Shortly after, the Orange had their upset hopes put to sleep.

The Scarlet Knights did not hold back on the glass. They maintained their dominance, out-rebounding Syracuse 42-28. Ron Harper Jr. had himself a night with 26 points and 7 rebounds on 9-13 shooting. The Orange played hard and were almost rewarded, but Rutgers closed the game on a 17-4 run to earn the win.