Quincy Douby had 19 points and seven rebounds and Ollie Bailey scored six of his 12 points down the stretch as the Scarlet Knights scored the final nine points of the game and beat No. 22 Louisville 65-56 on Saturday.
The victory comes on the heels of a dismal home loss to Providence on Wednesday night.
"It was an outstanding game played in all phases," Rutgers coach Gary Waters said of his team. "The kids played with enthusiasm and intensity, something that we didn't do three days ago in the first half. We buried ourselves in the first half and it killed us.
"Today, I thought we grew up. We kept our composure at the end."
JR Inman added 13 points for Rutgers (13-7, 3-4), which snapped a three-game losing streak while handing Louisville (14-6, 2-5) its fourth loss in five games.
The Cardinals' slump, which will likely drop them out of the Top 25, comes as no surprise to coach Rick Pitino.
"I've been in the Big East before, gone to the Final Four (in 1987) but this team couldn't hang with my Providence teams," said Pitino, whose team is tied for 12th in the 16-team Big East. "This is a team that's very young, and I knew from day one this year we were going to struggle. We struggled with Bellarmine College and Southern Indiana, two Division II teams, in exhibitions.
"We're not playing particularly well, we're all young, we're all new, this doesn't come as a surprise to me at all. If we were still in Conference USA we would have been the third- or fourth-best teams if all the other teams had stayed."
Louisville's youth aside, it could not detract from the joy of the Scarlet Knights, who posted their first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 25 Providence, Jan. 10, 2004. It was also their first win against Louisville in five tries.
"This is a big win for us," said freshman guard Anthony Farmer, who had eight assists, five rebounds and just two turnovers against the Cardinals' pressure defense. "Especially with three straight road games coming up. And it was a big deal to beat a ranked opponent. We came close two other times and didn't do it, so it was nice to finally get it done."
With the game tied at 56-56, Farmer found Bailey for a slam with 2:32 remaining. That started Rutgers' 9-0 run to end the game, as Douby turned a steal into a layup, Bailey put back a miss by Douby miss, and Douby made three of four free throws over the final 40 seconds.
"I knew I better show up and execute today," said Bailey, who played a total of 21 minutes in the previous five games. "I knew I had to bring my energy. This was an impact win for us."
Louisville did not score over the final 3:02, as Rutgers survived 28 percent shooting in the second half.
"Our losses have been coming at the end of games," guard Taquan Dean said. "That shows the youth of this team. We got beat by a better team today.
"Even with me hurting, my teammates stayed in the game. It came down to a couple possessions at the end where we needed stops, and we didn't get them."
Dean, Louisville's leading scorer, started for the first time in six games since spraining an ankle. Dean led the Cardinals with 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting and was limping in the second half due to cramps.
The Cardinals trailed by 16 points midway through the first half and pulled within 11 by halftime.
With the Scarlet Knights making just three of their first 20 shots after intermission, Louisville chipped away before Williams' layup gave the Cardinals a 52-51 lead with 4:45 remaining. There were three lead changes and a tie from that point, before Bailey's slam started the Scarlet Knights' winning run.
"That's the road for you," Dean said. "Once you get the crowd going against you everything comes out of joint."