Rutgers number 11 suffered its first loss of the season on Wednesday, and some of its players have their fingers pointed at the official team.
Here is the case to be made: Despite leading by double digits in most of the competition, the Scarlet Knights fell 80-68 after being overtaken by 29-9 in the last 8 minutes and 44 seconds. The meaning of this timestamp? That’s when the center Myles Johnson missed after just 15 minutes on the court.
With pivot Cliff Omoruyi out due to a knee injury, it was pivot Mamadou Doucoure who replaced Johnson during the stretches Johnson passed on the bench. In 20 minutes on the court, he suffered four fouls.
In total, Rutgers committed 22 fouls and awarded 29 free throws to the Buckeyes, who scored 22 points on the free throw line. They hit 21 free throws in the second half alone, accounting for 17 of their 52 points in the second half.
To see the full picture, here is some important information: Ohio State committed 20 similar fouls and awarded 17 free throws. Johnson struggled with foul problems throughout his career, entering the contest with an average of 5.1 fouls for 40 minutes. Buckeyes have a free-throw rate of 44.1, good for 28th place in the country, and score 25% of their points on the free-throw line in the season, which means they also hit the foul line before the game Wednesday.
However, Rutgers fans were out of your mind on social media, and the Scarlet Knights finally reached their limit on the court. With 4:25 left in the game and the score tied at 61, the Rutgers bench was hit with a technical foul after protesting the lack of a foul in Ohio by contesting a Geo Baker layup attempt.
Some Scarlet Knights expressed their disdain for refereeing the contest on Twitter after the game.
Johnson was the most vocal in a couple of deleted tweets since then.
“There must be 3 big serves in the game world tonight because there is no way,” he tweeted minutes after the contest, concluding with emojis from a trash can and a zebra, explaining that he thought the referee was garbage.
Junior striker Ron Harper Jr., who led the Scarlet Knights with 20 points, was more subtle, tweeting a simple “Lol” and retweeting a tweet criticizing the arbitration.
Coach Steve Pikiell and senior leader Geo Baker played down their frustration with refereeing at their post-match press conferences.
“I just have to do a better job with employees,” said Pikiell. “They were great. They do a good job.”
“You are thrilled in this game, and I think we are all a little thrilled,” said Baker. “I think we lost the lead, which, as a veteran team, we shouldn’t be doing. I don’t think the referees affected the game much. We just have to do better as a team. We let the leadership go. That’s on us. “
One thing the Scarlet Knights agree with: the way the competition ended will feed them for the rematch against the Buckeyes at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday, January 9, 2021 – 17 days from Wednesday.
“17 days in RAC without cheating, shit,” Johnson tweeted and then excluded.
Before that, Rutgers will have a few days off for the holidays. Next, it will host Purdue and Iowa at RAC and travel to East Lansing to face Michigan. Four days later, the Scarlet Knights host the State of Ohio.
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Brian Fonseca can be reached at [email protected].