PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Sophomore guard Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.) made eight-of-nine free throws en route to a game-high 23 points off the bench in helping Rutgers (10-3, 1-1) to a 67-62 win over No. 22/24 Pittsburgh (12-3, 0-2) Saturday afternoon before a national television audience at the RAC. With the victory, the Scarlet Knights have defeated four of the last six nationally-ranked opponents to enter the truncated pyramid.
Fellow sophomore guards Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) and Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) complemented Carter well. Seagears dished-out six assists in a starting role and scored seven points on 2-of-3 shooting with four rebounds. Mack made 4-of-7 field goals to score 11 points with five boards.
The Scarlet Knights made 57.1 percent (22-43) of their field goal attempts and limited the Panthers to 37.5 percent (21-of-56) shooting. RU also out-rebounded their foes by a 36-24 margin.
Despite the early (11 a.m. start), Rutgers was ready to play off the jump and darted out to a 19-5 lead. The Scarlet Knights made 6-of-6 from the field over the first 4:38 with just one turnover.
Pittsburgh battled back to within seven (22-15), but Rutgers regained control once again thanks to its hot shooting and tenacious defense. The Scarlet Knights largest advantage of the contest was 16 points (39-23), before entering the locker room at the midpoint with a 39-25 lead.
RU struggled offensively to begin the second half, as the home squad posted only six points in the initial 12 minutes. The Scarlet Knights defense remained strong, but the Panthers managed to diminish its deficit to three points (51-48) with five minutes to go. Rutgers responded with a pair of Carter free throws, before a Durand Johnson three-pointer made a two-point game (55-53) with three minutes remaining.
The Scarlet Knights responded to the challenge with a six point run and never looked back. Carter hit a 10-footer in the lane with 2:53 to go and Dane Miller added two free throws after James Robinson and Tray Woodall missed 3-pointers on the ensuing possession to secure the game.
J.J. Moore came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points for Pittsburgh.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood Wednesday (Jan. 9) evening to meet St. John’s in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised live on MSG.
- The win over No. 22/24 Pittsburgh marked the fourth win over a ranked opponent for RU head coach Mike Rice.
- The Scarlet Knights have defeated four of the last six ranked teams to enter the RAC. RU is 5-4 vs. the last nine ranked opponents at home.
- Rutgers moves to 1-1 through two games in BIG EAST play for the first time since 2006-07.
- RU shot .512 from the floor, the fifth time this season that RU has shot above 50 percent. RU moves to 5-0 in those games.
- The Scarlet Knights got off to a hot start, shooting 6-of-6 from the field over the first 4:38 with just one turnover. RU finished the half shooting at a .577 clip.
- The Scarlet Knights have grabbed equal-or-more rebounds in nine games this season, including outrebounding the Panthers 36-24. The Scarlet Knights rise to 5-2 when outrebounding their opponent.
- Eli Carter (23) has recorded double-figures in each of the last 12 contests.
- The sophomore posted 10-plus points in the first half for the sixth time this season and second-straight.
- Carter has reached the 20-point plateau six times this season and three times over the last six games.
- Coming off the bench, Carter is averaging 20.8 points per game in four games.
- Myles Mack scored in double-figures for the 10th time this season and 25th of his career. The sophomore has posted 10-plus points in 10 of the last 12 games.
- Rutgers moves to 25-23 all-time against Pitt, including 12-12 at home and 8-7 at the RAC.
- Jerome Seagears with six assists, his fifth career game with five-plus helpers and first this season.
- Dane Miller paced RU in rebounding for the fourth time this season and 46th of his career.
- RU held Pitt to its second-lowest scoring output of the season in the first half, as the Panthers scored 25 points.
- Seagears earned his first start since Nov. 9, 2012 vs. Saint Peter’s. It marked the first time since Iona (12/8/12) that the starting lineup has changed.
- Seagears finished with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, adding six assists and four rebounds.
- For the fifth time this season, RU had less than three players score in double-digits. Rutgers moves to 3-2 in those contests.
Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice
Opening statement: “We still go through stretches where we’re still getting in our own way, especially with the turnovers, but the body language, resolve and toughness, yeah, I said the word toughness, we had that. When it was time to execute and make a shot, we did that, whether it was Wally [Judge] down low or whether it was Mike Poole stepping up. To be able to change the defense and keep Pitt off balance, again, it’s a great coach down there, a quality team, a tremendous team, but we did some different things as far as switching the defenses today that I thought helped us win. It was truly a team victory. Everybody kind of stepped up the last two days and they did their jobs.”
On how the team played: “I’m excited. I said I was very proud of this team, especially with the lack of response, because it was a difficult setting up at Syracuse. They played extremely well, but I don’t think we responded. When we were punched, we blinked and backed up, and today we didn’t. The guys were great in the huddle. They guys were communicating and protecting each other, and that’s a step forward with this team.”
On the first half: “I certainly would like to bottle that first half. What it came down to was stops, rebounding the miss and finishing the possession. And now our players are good in transition. In the second half we just didn’t get enough stops to get out in transition. We had a couple steals at the end to help us. That’s how I want to play. I want to play aggressive man to man defense or a zone, and get out and run. When we get stops we can do that.
On what Eli Carter brings off the bench: “He certainly brings a punch to us. In that 17, 16, 15 minute mark, guys are starting to get tired, the opposing team is starting to get a little winded, and then he comes in and does what he does.”
On Jerome Seagears: “He needed a wakeup call. I thought in the Syracuse game, he may not have played with tremendous purpose, but he was an animal in the huddles. He was aggressive, he was a leader. He was our emotional leader at Syracuse. Some things happened that allowed him to start today, and he responded. I thought he was tremendous defensively, tremendous in the huddles, and it also gives Myles [Mack] a chance to get off the ball and run more plays for Myles.”
Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon
Game thoughts: “I give Rutgers credit; they obviously got off to a great start. It looked like we were going to get off to a great start with the layup by Steve (Adams), but as the half progressed we dug a hole that we couldn’t recover from. We responded in the second half and we played hard. We made some adjustments and that helped, but it’s hard to come back from a fifteen point deficit. We had the opportunity to makes some layups, but when you’re down it’s tough.”
“We shot too many perimeter jump shots to start the game. We tried to get Cameron (Wright) going and I don’t know if that worked to our advantage. “
“We’re just not getting it done and our defense is the thing that stands out. I thought that our offense led to our defensive short comings in the first half. Our rebounding is a hard thing to comprehend. “