Associated Press, November 25, 2016

(AP) Nigel Johnson launched the ball to the rafters and Corey Sanders ran around the court with his arms raised over his head in jubilation.


It was a celebration that could have been mistaken for a team that just caused a major upset. Instead, it was a team's relief from escaping one.

C.J. Gettys rebounded Corey Sanders' missed layup and scored with six seconds left to give Rutgers the 77-75 win over Hartford on Friday.

"Corey was just able to split the gap of defenders and get to the rim and I have everyone's back. That's our team motto. I have your back and you have mine," Gettys said. "So I was right there for the follow-up and luckily I was able to muster it in."

Deshawn Freeman had a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds for back-to-back double-doubles to help Rutgers escape an upset.

"When we came out of a huddle and D (Deshawn Freeman) said `I got it', we were down 10 and I felt pretty good. You don't get that often from players. I love when players, especially a player like him with a double-double tonight, says `Coach, we got it. We got it'. They did," coach Steve Piekell said. "They wanted to give me a heart attack, but they got it. C.J. (Gettys) was great at the end. He was a facilitator. We got him the ball in the middle of the zone and he made the right reads while D was able to finish a lot of plays. So, good leadership and a good team win."

Mike Williams hit a 3-pointer with 2:05 left to cut Hartford's once 13-point second-half lead to 73-71 and bring the RAC crowd to its feet.

Johnson stole J.R. Lynch's inbounds pass and scored to tie the game at 73 with 1:42 left. Johnson's layup off a pass from Sanders made it 75-73 with 47 seconds remaining.

Hartford's George Blagojevic made a layup assisted by Jason Dunne on the following possession to knot the game at 75 with 24 seconds to play.

Jalen Ross had 19 points and Dunne had 18 points to lead Hartford.

"We prepared. We know how good we can be. We just have to finish the game," Hartford coach John Gallagher said. "This will be a great learning experience. There's two ways to look at it – you can go the devastation route, or you can say we can build off of this. I'm going to choose to build off of it."


Rutgers: Has its first 6-0 start since 1975-1976, when the team began 31-0 en route to the program's lone Final Four appearance. However, Rutgers hasn't been tested as the Scarlet Knights have not played a team with a winning record.

Hartford: The Hawks backcourt seems to be coming together. Ross, averaging 23.2 points per game heading into the game, including two 30-point outings, Ross continued his hot start to the season, while Dunne followed up his first career double-double with another promising performance. Add in Lynch, and the three-guard set that started the game combined for 48 points


Pikiell has now won 17 of the last 18 games he's coached against Gallagher. The two used to face off regularly in the American East when Pikiell was the head coach at Stony Brook.


Rutgers was coming off a 42-hour turnaround after a 7 p.m. start on Wednesday night and has played four games in the last eight days. Meantime, Hartford was playing its second of three games in a 96-hour span.