MADISON, Wis. — Ron Harper Jr. scored 21 points and Rutgers downed a ranked team for the third straight game, beating No. 14 Wisconsin 73-65 Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights (15-9, 9-5 Big Ten) knocked off then-No. 13 Michigan State 84-63 a week ago Saturday and No. 16 Ohio State 66-64 on Wednesday. This marks the first time in program history they’ve beaten a Top 25 team in three consecutive games.
Paul Mulcahy put Rutgers ahead with 4:02 left by sinking a 3-pointer that started an 11-0 spurt. Geo Baker found Mulcahy for the go-ahead basket after stealing the ball from a driving Johnny Davis on the other end of the floor.
The Scarlet Knights have a 4-1 record against Top 25 teams this season and own four wins over ranked Big Ten teams for the first time ever. Rutgers also beat a top-ranked Purdue team on Dec. 9.
All of Rutgers’ other wins over ranked teams this season came at home. Saturday’s victory stood out because it came on the road, where Rutgers has struggled.
Rutgers won at Wisconsin for the first time in six attempts and improved its road record this season to 3-7. This marked the highest-ranked team Rutgers has beaten on the road since winning at No. 13 Pittsburgh on Jan. 26, 2008.
Wisconsin (19-5, 10-4) dropped a half-game behind No. 13 Illinois (17-6, 10-3) in the Big Ten standings. Illinois hosts Northwestern on Sunday.
Mulcahy scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and also had five rebounds and five assists. Baker scored 16 and Clifford Omoryui had 10 for Rutgers, which shot 51% from the floor and went 7 of 12 on 3-point attempts.
Tyler Wahl scored a career-high 23 points for Wisconsin. Steven Crowl had 12 points and Davis added 11.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights finally showed they could beat a quality team on the road as they try to force their way into the NCAA Tournament conversation with a late surge. Rutgers began the day 94th in the NET rankings. The Scarlet Knights hurt their cause with a three-game skid in November that included losses to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass.
Wisconsin: The Badgers hurt their cause with some uncharacteristically sloppy play. Wisconsin entered the day making 74.9% of its free-throw attempts but was just 9 of 17 on Saturday. Wisconsin was committing just 8.3 turnovers per game – the lowest average of any Division I team – but had eight in the second half alone Saturday. The Badgers also were 4 of 19 from 3-point range, with Brad Davison going 1 of 9.
A road win at No. 17 Michigan State and a home loss to Rutgers could cancel themselves out, causing Wisconsin to pretty much stay put in the next Top 25.
Rutgers: At Illinois on Wednesday.
Wisconsin: At Indiana on Tuesday.