That's why they call DeShawn Freeman the captain.
Freeman did what captains do in a masterful escaping act against a 1-4 Hartford team that showed up to play when Rutgers did not. Freeman carried eight other players on his back for 35 minutes until the rest of the roster woke up in a stunning 77-75 victory.
“When we came out of a huddle and [Freeman] said 'I got it' when we were down 10, I felt pretty good,” said head coach Steve Pikiell. “You don't get that often from players but I love when players, especially a player like him with a double double tonight said 'Coach we got it.' They did. They wanted to give me a heart attack, but they got it.”
Down by double digits with five minutes to play, Freeman acted as captain when he told teammates he has it under control. Freeman's fourth double double of the season came with 10 boards and a career-high 26 points.
“I hate to lose,” Freeman said. “One thing I hate, I just hate to lose. I kind of got on a roll, and as a team, we all got on a roll at the end of the game. That's what we needed.”
“Ghost gang” counterpart CJ Gettys gave Rutgers the victory with a put-back layup, and a steal on Hartford's final possession blew up the building.
“[Freeman] is my brother, literally,” said Gettys, who gave 10 points and five rebounds. “I'm so glad I came here and met him and get to play beside him every game. He steps up when we need him big. He's got my back and I got his.”
The win puts Rutgers at 6-0 for the first time in 41 years, and attention shifts to Miami as the toughest challenge to d ate.
“It's a fun environment because people keep coming and we keep winning,” said freshman Issa Thiam, who scored a career-high 11 points. “We need to keep winning and working hard.”