RUTGERS 61 – MICHIGAN STATE 55
It wasn’t pretty, but when it came down to the tough minutes Rutgers found a way to get it done against Big Ten rival Michigan State, defeating them 61-55 at a sold out, raucous, pro-Rutgers crowd at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
Days before the Big Ten Super Saturday classic, senior guard Paul Mulcahy said of the contest being held in the City That Never Sleeps, “the lights are brighter, but it’s just another court.”
That mentality was on full display as the product of Bayonne made the Garden crowd his own, as he scored all 17 points he netted on the afternoon in the second half. It started when he nailed a three-pointer with 13:31 to go that knotted the game at 33.
Fill in the blank: Paul Mulcahy was __________ in that second half. @paulmulcahy_4 x @RutgersMBB pic.twitter.com/hMfesoSLub— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) February 4, 2023
Later the senior would tag-team with Caleb McConnell to stymie the Spartans charge. McConnell’s three pointer with 6:44 to go brought the house down as Rutgers grabbed a 42-40 lead.
Mulcahy then added to that lead with a pair of free throws.
With 3:37 to go Mulcahy was fouled hard on the court, and stayed down for a couple of minutes. He would soon get up, shake it off and take over. Nailing one-of-two free throws, then coming back to drill back-to-back layup attempts to put Rutgers up 51-44 with 2:12 to go.
Rutgers was in full control all the way til the buzzer sounded.
In speaking of both Mulcahy and McConnell, Hall of Fame Head Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State told the press, afterwards that he told both Rutgers stars that they have been huge for the Big Ten, adding he hopes not to see Rutgers again. Izzo is a fan of what Head Coach Steve Pikiell has down with the program.
The victory is RU’s first in the Big Ten Classic, having lost its previous two trips in 2017 and 2020. Rutgers is now 54-59 all time at the Garden.
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