I began 2022 with a deep dive into New Jersey college basketball. On Tuesday January 4th, I was at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, NJ for Rutgers against Michigan. The Scarlet Knights took it to their Big 10 foe from the opening tip. Beating the Wolverines 39-30 in the first half. Rutgers held on in the second half for a 75-67 win. The Scarlet Knights hit 11 three pointers with Ron Harper Jr going 5-6 from beyond the 3 point arc. He had 20 points for the game. Rutgers was led in points by Geo Baker who had 27 points on 10-15 shooting and a key 3 pointer down the stretch. It was the first win ever against the Wolverines in Rutgers Men’s Basketball history. After the game in the interview room Ron Harper Jr said, “we’re going to keep pushing through the ups and downs of the season”adding, “if someone loses confidence it’s ok, we’re going to keep picking each other up.” Caleb McConnell seated next to him nodded and said, “facts.”McConnell hit a big three down the stretch after Michigan had cut Rutgers lead to 7.
Four days later I was at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ for UCONN’s visit to Seton Hall. The game was a “barn burner” with UCONN winning the first half by four 41-37 and Seton Hall winning the second half by four 40-36 forcing overtime. Seton Hall’s Kadary Richmond was the story of the game. Coming into the game averaging 7 points, the sophomore who played at South Side High School in Brooklyn scored 27. None of his points were more important than his final field goal. At 2:22pm on Saturday January 8th Kadary Richmond took UCONN’s 6’ 9” Isaiah Whaley to Richmond’s left then backed Whaley down to Kadary’s right before going left again and scoring. It put Seton Hall up 88-87 with 31 seconds to go. The game was closed out by Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden stealing the ball and calling timeout. Winning with defense.