Ugly Road to Fifth Straight Win is Beautiful to Rutgers Coach Steve Pikiell

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- DeShawn Freeman promised 15 rebounds and delivered in a bounce-back effort. Meanwhile, coach Steve Pikiell called Wednesday night's 66-53 victory "beautiful."

he fifth in a row was by far the most cringe-worthy for Rutgers.

Apparently coach Steve Pikiell is a believer in beauty that comes from within, because that is what he saw in a 66-53 slobberknocker over North Texas.

I know you guys will probably say this game was a little bit ugly, but I think it was beautiful,” Pikiell said. “We couldn't score and it didn't matter. I thought we were getting some good looks. I knew this team was very dangerous. I watched all of the tape.”

The Scarlet Knights did not finish easy shots, and left itself open for too many transition buckets. They fixed both just in time for an 18-2 run that sent the players off for a happy Thanksgiving.

My coach said it is, so I guess I could say it was beautiful,” said guard Mike Williams, who gave 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. “In my mind it was kind of ugly. Like he said, sometimes the ball doesn't go into the rim. You've got to find ways to win. Our defense led us to this victory.
Captain DeShawn Freeman got a mix of criticism and friendly ribbing for the goose egg on the boards against Niagra.

Freeman more than made up for it with a career-high 15 rebounds. Rutgers again dominated the boards with a 53-26 advantage and 21 on offense.

Zero rebounds last game hurt me,” Freeman said. “I tried not letting it get to me but I knew that wasn't me. Tonight I told the guys I got them on the rebounds. It's a good night. I told CJ [Gettys] on Twitter, we talked and he tried to make a joke. I told him today I was going to get 15.”

Thanksgiving is a work day for Rutgers basketball, which practices in the morning before a 1 p.m. Friday tip against Hartford.

We have to prepare, we play the next day,” Pikiell said. “We'll have a great meal, can't eat too much because we have to play the next day, but we'll have a great day tomorrow. We have a lot to be thankful for.”

By the way...

Freeman's double double joins him with freshman Jonathan Laurent as the only players on the active roster with three in the same season.

Block machine Candido Sa posted five in 24 minutes. He is the first Scarlet Knight with five blocks in a game since Greg Lewis against Virginia in 2014.

Win No. 5 is the best start since 2000-01 under Kevin Bannon but don't get too excited. Bannon finished that season 11-16 with just three conference wins.

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