PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Geo Baker called Jacob Young a sparkplug. Akwasi Yeboah called him the X-factor.
Young proved on Tuesday night that he's earned both of those nicknames.
Providing a crucial boost off the bench, Young scored a team-high 17 points to help Rutgers pull off a huge 78-67 victory over No. 9 Maryland at Rutgers Athletic Center, a win that significantly bolstered the Scarlet Knights' NCAA Tournament hopes.
Young shot 7-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the perimeter, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Rutgers' victory helped keep its hopes alive of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991.
Young picked a good time to deliver one of his finest all-around performances of the season.
"JY brings so much energy into the game," Baker said. "He brings so much passion. He loves the game of basketball. He deserved that night. ...I was really happy to see him playing like that. We expect that from him. It was just really fun out there."
Young entered the game just more than four minutes into the first half and promptly drained a three-pointer on an assist from Baker that put Rutgers up by three — a lead it never relinquished.
Rutgers basketball: Scarlet Knights makes a Big Dance statement, handles ninth-ranked Maryland
Young hit another triple just three minutes later that gave the Scarlet Knights a six-point lead, and then another a minute later to put them up by nine.
He finished the first half with 11 points, helping Rutgers keep the momentum.
Young was on a roll.
"I felt it," Young said. "My coaches and teammates push it. They just tell me before I got in the game, ‘Just stay ready.’ They tell me that every game. ‘Just stay ready, be the defensive spark.’ Everyone’s going to go based off your energy. That’s what I have to do because that’s what they tell me and that’s what they want me to do."
It's been an up-and-down season for Young. He was arrested for driving under the influence back in early February, and subsequently was suspended for Rutgers' game at Maryland, a game the Scarlet Knights lost by five points.
"I let (my teammates) down," Young said. "I had to come back with a bang, especially for my guys Akwasi (Yeboah) and Shaq (Carter)."
Young certainly did that.
"(He was) huge," said Yeboah, who was honored pre-game as part of Senior Night. "Both ends of the floor. He brings a lot of energy when he comes into the game. He’s a really big X-factor when he comes into the game."
Want access to all our sports coverage? Consider purchasing a digital subscription to APP.com and downloading our mobile app today.
Rutgers will need Young's energy as it now heads to play at Purdue on Saturday for its regular-season finale. The Scarlet Knights could lock up their Tournament hopes with a victory.
The Scarlet Knights then will head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament.
Young has a knack for delivering big late-season performances. Even back when he was playing at Texas before transferring to Rutgers, Young was coming through in the clutch.
He had several big games down the stretch, and then scored 29 points for the Longhorns against Texas Tech in the Big 12 quarterfinal, which Texas lost by just four points.
Now he's coming through for the Scarlet Knights.
They'll need more of his energy.
"Just mentally, can’t let my teammates down," Young said. "It’s that time of the year. Live or you go home. You keep going or you go home. It’s March. It’s that time of the year, you’ve got to come with some heart."