Regardless of how ugly it was for long stretches of time, it's impossible to be upset over a 15-point road win when home teams have dominated the first two weeks of Big East action so completely. And if that doesn't make you feel better, then just remember that Georgetown scored less points and won by a smaller margin when it visited the RAC two Saturdays ago.
It's officially a winning streak.
I liked that Rick Pitino refused to get away from the zone even after Jaron Griffin - who was 12-of-69 from three coming into the game - started to fill it up. Poor shooting teams that get off to hot starts almost always come back down to Earth, and Rutgers' end of the game field goal percentage of 31.4% is certainly representative of that.
Obviously this was not Derrick Caracter's finest hour, but I think going up against a defender as imposing as Hamady N'Diaye this early in the conference season is going to benefit him significantly down the road.
In the past few weeks Caracter had gotten accustomed to kicking the ball out when he was double teamed and trying to score when he wasn't. Well, things get a little more complicated when you're going up against a 6-foot-11 shot-blocking machine. Against a guy like N'Diaye you have to work harder without the ball so that you already have an advantage when the pass comes into the post. We saw this happen once in the second half when DC was able to use his superior speed to convert a nice little up-and-under move.
N'Diaye's presence also gave us yet another opportunity to see why David Padgett is so valuable to this team. Padgett - who obviously doesn't possess the speed or athleticism that Caracter does - sized up the situation every time he caught the ball in the post, and if there wasn't an open cutter or anyone free on the wings, he'd make a couple of moves before going straight into N'Diaye's body. David shot seven free-throws, and N'Diaye eventually fouled out.
The other disappointing part of Caracter's game was the missed gimmies around the bucket. This is the second straight game DC has finished with about eight less points than he should have, and about 90% of that is focus. You've made a great move, but you still have to finish the play.
On one hand, it's encouraging that we've won the last two games so convincingly despite failingo to convert so many easy points. On the other hand, uh, let's go ahead and start making lay-ups before it costs us a game.
Another ginormous effort from Terrence Williams who snatched 14 rebounds, a mere nine more than Caracter and Earl Clark, who tied for second on the team with five. Williams also handled the ball a great deal while playing all 40 minutes, and still finished with zero turnovers. The dunks were nice too.
I suppose Pitino was worried about playing Preston Knowles against a team notorious for utilizing a variety of junk defenses, but I still don't like seeing Will Scott getting minutes ahead of Knowles.
Congratulations to Juan Palacios on becoming U of L's 58th 1,000-point scorer. I think the awkward-looking running jump hook was fairly appropriate.
Palacios' acrobatic up-and-under three-point play was nice, but T-Will's mini-reenactment immediately after it happened might have been better.
Edgar Sosa playing the last six minutes of the game despite some questionable decisions says to me that Pitino is making his move with Edgar. Rick feels like this team can't be a national title contender without Sosa running the show, and so he's throwing Edgar into the fire for the next two weeks and is going to see what happens.
I suppose if this move was going to be made, now is the right time. If Sosa turns the corner then this team has a chance to reach its ceiling, and if he doesn't then we're right back where we were. It's sort of like starting Nuke LaLoosh in a big game with two weeks left in a heated playoff race.
Jerry Smith continues to turn up his game and remain really cool at the same time. He's been our most consistent player over the last three weeks, and his progression has played a large part in putting this team back into a position to contend for a conference title.
I'm watching the Australian Open and someone needs to go Monica Seles on Rafael Nadal's bitch ass.
It needed to be said.
I think Jerry Smith has also taken over Perrin Johnson's long-held role as "player you can hear Rick yelling at the most on defense." Yesterday produced what is probably my favorite audible in-game Pitino yell of the season: "Back up Jerry....back up Jerry.....JERRY! PLEASE BACK UP!."
It's the little things people.
Derrick Caracter sill gets called for fouls that don't exist simply because he's Derrick Caracter.
It's Marquette week.