Piscataway, N.J. (December 30, 2012) – Winners of nine of its last 10 games, Rutgers (9-2) opens BIG EAST play in a 7 p.m. tip-off at the 33,633-seat Carrier Dome on Wednesday (Jan. 2) night. The Orange, who has been ranked as highly as No. 3 this season, is presently ranked No. 7 in both polls. RU has won five straight and will be competing in its first game away from the RAC since an 81-73 win over Iona at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8 and first true road game since an 80-67 loss at Ole Miss on Dec. 1.
The Scarlet Knights have downed three top 10 programs at home under head coach Mike Rice, but the program has never defeated a top 10 team at an away site. RU is 2-15 all-time in BIG EAST openers and will be looking to earn its first ever victory on the road to begin BIG EAST play. The Scarlet Knights last started the conference campaign with a victory in 2005-06, courtesy of an 82-78 win over Seton Hall at the RAC.
Rice will make his return to the bench at Syracuse on Wednesday night after serving a three-game suspension.
The game will be televised live in the New York Metropolitan market on MSG and via the web at ESPN3.com with Jason Benetti calling the action and former Rutgers player (1968-71) and head coach (1988-97) Bob Wenzel providing the analysis. On the radio, the contest will be broadcast live on the Rutgers Radio Network, WOR 710 AM in New York and WCTC 1450 AM in New Brunswick. Chris Carlin will serve as play-by-play announcer and Dick Lloyd will provide commentary.
Wednesday evening’s contest marks the 48th meeting between Rutgers and SU on the hardwood dating back to 1920, with the Orange holding a 38-9 advantage, including 12 consecutive victories. The Scarlet Knights are 1-22 all-time in games played at Syracuse, including 15 consecutive defeats. The last trip inside the Carrier Dome resulted in a hard-fought 84-80 overtime loss in Rice’s first season at the helm. The Scarlet Knights most recent victory at SU was a 76-75 decision on Feb. 6, 1975. Four Rutgers Hall Famers - Phil Sellers (20), Mike Dabney (16), Hollis Copeland (18) and Eddie Jordan (14) - scored in double figures in that win. In BIG EAST regular season play, the Orange has a 19-4 advantage. Last season, No. 2 Syracuse out-scored RU 12-2 down the stretch to escape the RAC with a 74-64 victory.
Senior wing Dane Miller (Rochester, N.Y.) shot 5-of-9 and 8-of-9 from the free throw line to score 18 points with five assists in helping Rutgers to a 68-56 win over Rider Friday afternoon at the RAC. Sophomore guard Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.), sophomore forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) and junior power forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) joined Miller in double figures. Carter was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line to post 15 points, all of which were scored in the second half. Jack tied his career best with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Judge had 10 points with eight rebounds. The Scarlet Knights, who committed just eight turnovers, limited the Broncs to 30.4 percent (14-46) shooting.
Carter leads the BIG EAST in free throw percentage (90.5), while ranking eighth in scoring (16.9). Fellow St. Anthony product Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) is second in the Conference in free throw percentage (89.7), third in three-point field goal percentage (.512), sixth in field goal percentage (.589) and 17th in scoring (14.5). Judge is eighth in the league in field goal percentage (.571) and 12th in rebounding (6.9). As a team, the Scarlet Knights are second in the BIG EAST in free throw percentage (.732) and third in field goal percentage (.483).
Syracuse, under the leadership of 37th year head coach Jim Boeheim, is 11-1 and hosts Central Connecticut on Monday (Dec. 31) afternoon before welcoming the Scarlet Knights. If SU defeats CCSU, it will provide Boeheim with his 902nd career victory, tying him with Bob Knight for second place on the all-time college hoops career wins chart. The Orange, which leads the BIG EAST in scoring offense (80.8) while placing second in field goal percentage defense (.353), defeated Alcorn State 57-36 at home on Saturday night. James Southerland boasts 14.0 points-per-game to lead four SU players that average double figures.