Analyzing the Houston-Rutgers Game, and Other Thoughts From the 2nd Round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament

March 21st, 2021

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch Houston play against Rutgers in the 2nd round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.  It was a hard-fought defensive battle, and Rutgers was able to get off to a double-digit lead in the second half.  Myles Johnson had set a hard screen on DeJon Jarreau on a play where Geo Baker made an open corner three, and Jarreau had re-injured his hip and was briefly knocked out of the game.  Rutgers was able to extend their lead to double-digits, and it was then when DeJon Jarreau returned to the game.

It was then that Jarreau’s return helped inspire Houston’s comeback.  Jarreau made smart passes and plays, he got tough rebounds in traffic, and he had a strong all-around game today.  Quentin Grimes hurt his elbow on a tough drive that fouled out Caleb McConnell, but he managed to stay in the game, and he later made a clutch three to keep his team in it.  In the end, Tramon Mark was able to grab an offensive rebound off of his teammate’s miss, as he scored on an acrobatic tip-in, and got fouled, as he made the extra free throw to get his team the go-ahead lead.  Houston kept the lead for good, and they managed to get a breathtaking, riveting 63-60 comeback win over Rutgers.  Here are my thoughts on how Jarreau, Quentin Grimes, Ron Harper Jr. and the others fared on this day.

Houston’s senior point guard, DeJon Jarreau played very well, as he scored 17 points and had 5 rebounds in his team’s second round win over Rutgers in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Doug McSchooler/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

DeJon Jarreau had a strong showing as he played very well on both ends of the floor to lead his team to a valiant, comeback win over Rutgers.  He scored 17 points, made 2 threes, and he also had 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block, as he played through a hip injury to get his team the victory. He showed a solid ability to score on jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  Jarreau excelled at knocking down open, spot-up threes off the catch, as he showed the ability to move off the ball and also score on long-range shots in transition.  He also was able to score on mid-range floaters, as he can cut to the hoop to get the ball, or use crossover moves to quickly get past his man.  He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble, as he scored on a smooth, finger-roll layup. He would draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would take tough, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses, and sometimes he wouldn’t get a great angle to get those shots up.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Jarreau is a quick guard that can drive and kick balls out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them, and he can consistently get into the lane to draw in defenders.  On the downside, he was fairly turnover prone in this game.  He would sometimes over-dribble into traffic, which would lead to ball-handling turnovers, and he also threw an inaccurate lob pass that went out of bounds.  Also, Jarreau did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he also dove for a loose ball to get a key defensive board in the second half.

He also played solid defense in this game.  Jarreau was able to hustle back, as he flew in to make a chase down block on a drive in transition to get a stop early on.  He also generally excelled at contesting jumpers to force misses.  However, there was one play where he got beat to his left to allow a score, as he thought he had the sideline as the extra defender, but his opponent managed to squeeze in the space to score that time.  Another time, he rotated to commit a foul on a long two on a separate possession.

In general, DeJon Jarreau played very well, and he turned in a really gritty, gutsy performance, as his strong play and courage to play through a lingering hip injury helped inspire his team to rally back to get a comeback win over Rutgers.  He is a tall, athletic point guard that has been having a very good senior season, and Jarreau would likely be a solid pick for an NBA team in the 2021 draft.

Houston’s 6-5 junior guard, Quentin Grimes also had a very good showing in his team’s win over Rutgers.  He primarily excelled as a sharpshooter, scorer, and rebounder in this game, and he made clutch shots down the stretch to help his team get the victory. Grimes did a terrific job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He showed a knack for making them off the catch and dribble, and he is a skilled ball handler that has a lot of range on his shot.  He also ran off of a pin-down to get it on a dribble handoff to make a three, and he was virtually automatic as a scorer from beyond the arc. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Grimes drove in to score on an athletic, one-handed dunk on the break.  He also managed to score on a quick put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.

He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He showed a knack for drawing fouls when driving to the hoop or pulling up in the mid-range area to get to the free throw line often.  However, sometimes he would take tough, contested shots, or would take tough angle shots that would end up missing.  He also seemed to take a bit too many mid-range shots, as that seemed to hurt his shooting efficiency midway through this match before he was able to regain his shooting touch later on.

On the downside, he was also fairly turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Grimes is an unselfish player that can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he was able to throw an accurate interior pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  On the downside, he would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that winded up going out of bounds.  On a separate play, he was called for traveling when handling the ball once.

Also, Grimes did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often chase down balls to get rebounds, and he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played solid defense.  He was able to intercept passes to get steals, and he also blocked a shot hard off of a drive out of bounds.  On the downside, he did commit a couple of fouls when defending opposing ball-handlers due to over-aggressiveness.

In summary, Quentin Grimes played very well in his team’s win over Rutgers.  He made solid plays on both ends of the floor, and he shot the ball especially well from beyond the arc.  He has really improved his outside shot over the years, and he is an athletic, skilled swingman that could be a solid find for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft.

Rutgers’ 6-6 junior forward, Ron Harper Jr. had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Houston.  On one hand, he helped do the little things to help his team on both ends of the floor, and Harper generally passed the ball and defended well.  He also shot the ball well from beyond the arc and was active at crashing the boards to get his team rebounds.  On the other hand, he did not make any of his two-point shots nor drew any free throws, as that ended up hurting his shooting efficiency.

Harper showed a fairly good ability to knock down jumpers, especially from downtown.  Harper used a jab step to knock down a three, and he also stepped back to make an open corner three another time.  On the downside, he missed on a baseline, turnaround mid-range jumper off the dribble, but Harper excelled at knocking down threes in this game. On the downside, he struggled to score off the dribble when he would look to take the ball to the basket.  Harper had a shot blocked off of himself when driving to the hoop, and he lacks elite foot speed or quickness.  He also dribbled in, but missed on a put back attempt after grabbing an offensive rebound.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Harper is a solid passer that can throw solid interior passes, and he is an unselfish player that will find the open man to get assists.  On the downside, he was doubled in the post, and he threw a hasty pass that got intercepted.  He also committed a charging foul on a drive earlier that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover, as he doesn’t have great speed to consistently get past his opponents when driving to the basket.

Also, Harper did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, and he was able to get boards on both sides of the ball.  He also played fairly good defense.  Harper showed a knack for blocking jump shots, and his length and ability to defend mid-range shots would help force opponents to commit shot-clock violations.  He also was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  On the downside, there was one play where he sagged too far off of his man, which led an opponent to score on a deep three.

Overall, Ron Harper Jr. didn’t have his best game, but he had some good moments in team’s loss to Houston.  He seems to have specific strengths, as he is a solid spot-up shooter and defender that could position him well to a 3 and D role in the NBA.  He is a versatile defender that has the length, disposition, and footwork to defend out on the perimeter, and he has very good strength that allows him to be quite effective as a low post defender.  He also has shown the ability to thrive as a scorer in transition, as he can catch lobs to score on rim-rocking alley-oop dunks on the break.  On the other hand, his team plays at a very slow pace, so he rarely gets opportunities to score on fast breaks, and Harper also is not particularly fast or quick, so he had a lot of trouble trying to get past opponents off the dribble, and he wasn’t particularly effective as a shot-creator today in this game against Houston. Currently, Ron Harper Jr. projects to be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.  He may be far from being a lock to be drafted, but his size, strength, and ability to shoot and defend could allow him to thrive as a role player similar to former journeyman forward, Ryan Gomes in the NBA.

Geo Baker played fairly well in his team’s loss to Houston.  He did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, but he also struggled with turnovers and fouls in this game. Baker showed a knack for scoring on quick drives to the basket, and he particularly seemed to favor going to his right.  He was able to score on an acrobatic, switch of hands layup early on, and he has a solid first step and dribble moves that allow him to consistently get past his man to score at the rim.  He also was able to draw free throws on a backdoor cut, and after pulling up to take a long two-point shot.  On the downside, he would sometimes force up some tough, contested shots, which would sometimes lead to misses. He also showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers.  Baker was able to make a corner three off the catch, but he missed on two other attempts from beyond the arc.

On the downside, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Baker is an unselfish player that can throw solid passes to teammates on the move.  He was able to get the ball on a cut, as he then quickly found a corner shooter to notch an assist.  He also threw an accurate lob pass to a roll man to set up a scoring chance another time.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to handle heavy ball pressure, which would lead to some ball-handling turnovers.  He also threw a bad pass that got intercepted another time. Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a pair of defensive boards for his team.  On the other hand, he also tended to commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, Geo Baker played fairly well in his team’s loss to Houston.  He is a quick, agile combo guard that showed off versatile scoring skills, and down the stretch, he appeared to be his team’s best bet to get a shot off.  He did struggle with turnovers, and he’ll still need to improve his playmaking skills.  Still, he’s an athletic combo guard that can score the basketball, and he currently projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft.

Houston’s freshman guard, Tramon Mark scored on an acrobatic tip-in while getting an and one on this play, and he would later make the extra free throw to put his team up for good. Houston would go on to get the win against Rutgers.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

Houston’s 6-5 freshman guard, Tramon Mark hit a big, clutch shot to give his team the go-ahead basket and the lead for good late in this game.  He was able to rebound his teammate’s miss to score on an acrobatic tip-in, as he also got fouled to get an extra free throw afterwards, which he would later make. Mark excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring and drawing free throws on put backs to help provide his team with second chance points.  He also managed to score on a backdoor cut.

He also was able to score on a speedy, baseline pull-up, mid-range jumper while falling away.  On the downside, Mark struggled to make his mid-range shots or to score off the dribble consistently, and he also missed on both of his threes that he hoisted up from beyond the arc. Mark also rebounded and defended well in this game.  He was able to haul in plenty of boards on both sides of the ball, and he also jumped a pass to get a steal.

Overall, Mark had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over Rutgers.  He had a bigger impact than what his box-score stats may have indicated, and he made solid hustle plays to help his team get the victory.  He is an athletic, energetic swingman that competes relentlessly, and he could be a prospect to watch in future games or next season.

Rutgers’ senior guard, Jacob Young had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Houston.  He excelled as a scorer early on, and he showed that can use either hand to score on fast break drives.  He also used a crossover to score on a step-back, mid-range jumper, and he also made an open corner three another time.  On the downside, Young struggled to knock down shots in the second half, especially from behind the three-point line, but he also would take tough, rushed shots off the dribble, as he had a couple of those get blocked out of bounds.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  He can throw good passes off the dribble, and he was able to find a roll man to notch an assist.  He did commit a couple of turnovers though, and he threw a pass that got intercepted once.  Also, he played satisfactory defense in this game.  Young was able to successfully draw a charge on a drive, and he also contested a mid-range shot to force a miss.

Overall, Jacob Young didn’t have his best game, but he is an agile, skilled combo guard that was able to make some plays at times on both ends of the floor.  He had a solid senior season, but he was a bit too turnover prone at times throughout his career.  He will need to show that he can effectively run the point at higher levels, but right now, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.

Rutgers’ 6-4 junior guard, Montez Mathis played very well off the bench, and he probably should have played more in this game.  Mathis did a great job of knocking down corner threes, and he also scored in the post another time.  Though he struggled to score off the dribble consistently, he was able to draw free throws on a right-handed drive in transition. He also played satisfactory defense.  Mathis was able to run in to intercept a poorly thrown pass to nab a steal, and he also was able to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss.

Overall, Mathis has had his ups ad downs this year, but he is an athletic, energetic combo guard that can play well on both ends of the court when he is dialed in.  He will likely need to stay in school for at least another season, and he will need to be a more consistent shooter in games, but he could project to be a regular starter and earn heavy minutes for his team next season.

Houston’s senior forward, Fabian White Jr. played fairly well in his team’s win over Rutgers.  He showed that he can knock down open jumpers from the mid-range and beyond the arc, and he also scored on a turnaround, bank jump hook in the post while getting an extra free throw.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is a high-motor player that may have above average athletic gifts.  He did seem to struggle to make mid-range jumpers consistently, but he showed that he can score from anywhere on the court.  White has proved himself to be a vital contributor on Houston’s team this year, and while he hasn’t seen as much playing time as expected, he is a skilled player that may have the skills to make his way to a team in the G-League or overseas next season or when his collegiate career ends.

Houston’s 6-1 sophomore guard, Marcus Sasser did not play very well in his team’s win over Rutgers, but he made a solid defensive play late in this game to help his team get the victory.  Sasser was able to help blitz the opposing ball handler, as he was able to rip the ball away to get a steal. On offense, he was able to run off the ball to make an open corner three, but he struggled to knock down threes in this game.  He drew free throws on a drive in transition, but Sasser generally struggled to make shots on offense.  He was able to get a pair of assists, but he also committed a pair of ball-handling turnovers, and he also threw an inaccurate inbounds pass that ended up going out of bounds.

He rebounded the ball well, and he played satisfactory defense in this game.  Sasser was very active at crashing the boards, and he applied heavy ball pressure to get steals and stops for his team.  Sometimes though, he would be caught ball watching, and on one play, it led him to trail his man on a cut to commit the foul.

Overall, Marcus Sasser didn’t have his best game, but he made enough plays in his team’s win over Rutgers.  He’s an athletic, energetic combo guard that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor, but he can tend to struggle in being consistent in games.  Still, he’s had a fairly solid sophomore season this year, and he could be a prospect to watch next year.

Notes from the other games:

I also was able to catch some of the Loyola-Chicago’s game against Illinois that took place earlier today. Loyola-Chicago won convincingly over their in-state rival, Illinois, and Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean were able to celebrate their second round win, as their team will square off against Oregon State in the Sweet 16. Loyola-Chicago made it to the Final Four in 2018, and they are a ver well-coached team, led by head coach Porter Moser, as they could be poised to make another Final Four run this year in 2021. Here are some of my thoughts.

Loyola-Chicago’s Cameron Krutwig scored 19 points, and he had 12 rebounds and 5 assists to lead his team to a second round win over Illinois in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
The Associated Press, via Daily Herald)

Loyola-Chicago’s senior big man, Cameron Krutwig played very well to help lead his team to a stunning, upset win over Illinois.  He is a crafty low post scorer that has good strength, and subtly good footwork to consistently score down low.  He also can score on off-ball motion plays, and he also scored on a tip-shot off of a roll to the rim late in this match. Also, Krutwig is a very good passer that sees the floor well, as he has the court vision of an NBA point guard.  Though he’s not an overwhelming athlete, he is a surprisingly good defender, and he would help blitz opposing ball handlers and use his length to swipe balls away to help his team get steals.

In this game, Krutwig had 19 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals in this game.  He had a very good showing in his team’s win over Illinois, and he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He is a smart, skilled big man that found ways to score and get assists, and he would also use his length to force turnovers.  He is a very underrated prospect that could be a solid find for an NBA team in the second round, and he could end up being a solid role player similar to former journeyman big man, Josh McRoberts in the NBA.

Here is one of the highlights of the Loyola-Chicago’s game against Illinois in their second round matchup of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Loyola-Chicago’s senior guard, Lucas Williamson scores on the break and gets the and one, with Sister Jean applauding the play.
(Source: Twitter/@BleacherReport)

For Illinois’ junior guard, Ayo Dosunmu, he did not play very well in his team’s loss to Loyola-Chicago.  He had trouble handling Loyola-Chicago’s heavy ball pressure, as they would blitz and swarm him, especially on pick and rolls to force him to commit turnovers.  There were a couple of times late in this game where Krutwig would swipe balls away from him to get Dosunmu to lose the basketball.

Also for Kofi Cockburn, though he did a good job of scoring in the post and rebounding the basketball, he seemed to get very tired defensively, and he had a lot of trouble getting back and making his rotations on that side of the ball.  He will definitely need to improve his conditioning, and Loyola-Chicago took advantage of his fatigue by moving the ball quickly on him to score on his team.

Syracuse’s junior guard, Buddy Boeheim played very well in his team’s second round win over West Virginia.  He’s a very good shooter that has shot the three-ball really well, and he’s taken advantage whenever defenders give him the time and space to shoot, and sometimes he’s shown that he doesn’t really need much space to get his shots off, as he can make them from very far out, and in abundance. He scored 25 points, and he made 6 three-pointers in this game.  Plus, he also was able to make some good passes, and he showed solid court vision to get the ball to his teammates.

His teammate, Joseph Girard III also shot the ball very well, and he excelled as a three-point shooter in this game.  He showed that he can make plenty of threes, and that he also can make them from well beyond the arc.  West Virginia’s Sean McNeil also played very well, as he scored 23 points and he made 7 threes in his team’s losing effort. Syracuse’s head coach, Jim Boeheim was able to get another NCAA victory, and the legendary college coach will lead his team to face off against Houston in the Sweet 16.

Oral Roberts was able to continue their string of good luck, as they got a second round win over Florida.  Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor played the entire duration of this contest, and they played all 40 minutes, and they played very well to help them get the victory.  Abmas scored 26 points on 14 shots, and he had 7 assists and 2 steals, and he did a tremendous job of drawing and making his free throws in this game.  Obanor scored 28 points on 16 shots, he made 4 threes, and he also had 11 rebounds and 4 steals in this game, as he also had a stellar showing in this game.

In the Oregon State-Oklahoma State, Ethan Thompson, Maurice Calloo, and Jarod Lucas combined to score 56 of their team’s 80 points to get Oregon State the upset win over Oklahoma State.

Cade Cunningham scored 24 points, and he had 5 steals, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in his team’s losing effort, but it seemed like his team just was under-manned, as they had trouble scoring or generating consistent offense, and they really struggled to defend Oregon State in this game. 

The concern all year long was that Cade Cunningham joined a team that would likely fall short in the NCAA Tournament, due to the lack of elite talent elsewhere on their roster, and that is essentially what happened, more or less.  Perhaps Cunningham should have teamed up with Scottie Barnes or other high-end prospects to form a super team. That said, Oklahoma State still had a solid season overall, and it seems that they likely exceeded most people’s expectations.  Also, Oregon State played a solid, team game to get the win, and they will play against Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16.

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