PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Redshirt junior power forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C) shot 7-of-8 to score 14 points in helping Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) to a 70-67 win over USF (9-7, 0-4) Thursday evening in a nationally-televised game at the RAC. The victory provides the Scarlet Knights a 3-2 record in league play, their best BIG EAST start after five games since also beginning 3-2 in 1999-00.
Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) and Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.) both contributed 13 points in the winning effort. Mack was 3-of-5 from behind the arc, while Carter was a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Fellow sophomore guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) dished-out a career-high tying seven assists while grabbing six rebounds.
After trailing at the break, the Scarlet Knights shot 51.5 percent (17-33) in the second half to secure the victory. RU committed a season-low six turnovers and out-rebounded the Bulls by a 32-28 margin.
Jawanza Poland scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half for USF. Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd added 11 points apiece for the Bulls, who had a game-tying three-point shot attempt rim out just before the buzzer sounded.
The Scarlet Knights established a 68-60 advantage after a Carter triple with 3:25 to play, but a resilient USF squad would not relent. Rudd answered with a three-pointer and Poland scored on an alley-oop dunk to cut the lead to 68-65.
A Carter layup gave Rutgers its final points with 1:48 to go, but Collins closed the gap to 70-67 with a floater with 1:26 left. It would prove the final points of the evening, as the RU defense held strong in the critical final moments.
The game, the first of four 9 p.m. BIG EAST tip-offs for the Scarlet Knights this season, featured nine lead changes and three ties.
Senior forward Austin Johnson (Elkins Park, Pa.) had another solid night for the Scarlet Knights, shooting 3-of-4 to score seven points during a sluggish first half. Fellow frontcourt mate Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood to meet another nationally-ranked opponent Saturday (Jan. 19) evening in South Bend at No. 20 Notre Dame. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET and the contest will be televised live in the New York region on SNY.
- The 3-2 start for Rutgers marks the best start through five BIG EAST games since the 1999-2000 season and the third time RU has been over .500 through five BIG EAST contests.
- The Scarlet Knights now hold a 5-1 record in games decided by less than five points. RU rises to 9-2 in games decided by 10-points or less.
- In four games coming off the bench, Austin Johnson is posted a 8.8 points per game average.
- Rutgers moves to 7-5 all-time against USF. In BIG EAST regular season games, the Scarlet Knights rise to 5-5 against the Bulls. At the RAC, RU boasts a 5-1 record vs. USF.
- Jerome Seagears dished out a career-high-tying seven assists while committing zero turnovers.
- For the first time in BIG EAST play, Wally Judge notched double-digits with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting. It marked the sixth double-figure scoring effort for Judge this season.
- Judge paced RU in scoring for just the second time in 2012-13. It marked the first game since Saint Peter’s (Nov. 9) the forward has led the Scarlet Knights.
- For the fifth time this season, Rutgers posted less than 10 turnovers with six, including just one in the second half.
- Myles Mack posted double-figures for the 12th time this season and 27th of his career with 13 points. It marked the third time in four games the guard has scored 10-plus.
- Eli Carter scored 13 points, his 13th double-figure game of the season.
- Kadeem Jack paced RU in rebounding for the sixth time this season with seven boards.
- USF scored 30 points in the paint, including 22 of 30 in the first half. RU forced USF to score 29 of its 37 points outside the paint in the second half.
- Of the nine players that saw action, eight scored four-plus points.
- The Scarlet Knights move to 9-1 when three or more players score 10-plus.
- Rutgers rises to 6-2 when outrebounding its opponent (32-28).
- Head coach Mike Rice went with the starting lineup of Seagears, Mack, Carter, Judge and Miller for the third-straight game. The Scarlet Knights move to 2-1 with this lineup.
- Miller now owns 40-straight starts.
Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice
Opening statement: “Classic BIG EAST game. Neither team wanted to blink, neither team wanted to give in. I thought we found a way to win, and that was scoring in the paint. Whether it was offensive rebounding or assists from Jerome Seagears attacking the paint, we found a way in the second half to grind one out. Again, if you watch BIG EAST games, that’s what every BIG EAST game seems to be. It’s not a thing of beauty, but you have to find a way. ”
On the momentum in the second half: “We got the lead. We jumped on them in the first four minutes. I thought Dane Miller and Jerome [Seagears’] energy level was incredible. If we could get the lead, that was going to give their guys to shoot quicker. I tried to press, but it’s just hard to do anything against Anthony Collins. He truly is a nightmare to defend a game plan against. We went zone and they hit some threes; we tried to go man, we tried to switch, we tried to go under, we did a lot of different things, but I thought we had stops that led to fast breaks that got the lead. I thought we played at the tempo that we wanted to play at.”
On Wally Judge: “I thought Wally did finish strong, he went through contact, but the execution we had [by Jerome Seagears], and the penetration we had, allowed Wally to get some easy looks. He finished one-on-one instead of one-on-two or three like he usually does.
On the last second USF three-point attempt: “We were screaming ‘No threes! No threes!’ and [Martino] Brock was a little off balance, but every time we wanted to change up our look they seemed to bury a three.
On winning at home: “Home court advantage. I think it’s hand in hand with experience, talent, and strength. We have to protect it. If you want to do anything in this league you have to protect your own home court. I think we’re starting to have a feeling, a sense of mentality that this (losing) isn’t going to happen to us and we’re going to protect it.”
On the mental maturity of the team after couple close games/wins: “It’s big, it’s huge. It shows you’re not making the same mistakes. We were up on South Florida twice last year in the last 45 seconds, and found a way to get in our own way. That’s a positive, that the guys are handling late-game situations and are finding a way to get stops and score.”
USF Head Coach Stan Heath
Game thoughts: “Tough game, good game for Rutgers, but I thought that we were going to get this one. We did a lot of things better especially on the offensive end. We lost a little on the glass and we’re certainly a better rebounding team. The start of the second half was the key. They made their run and we kind of let our guard down a little bit. We came close and had some great opportunities. We had an opening that ended up in a turnover in the last minute. We had a good look at the three and probably could of made one more pass to a hot Poland in the corner and maybe tied thing up. Judge was a big difference. He doesn’t normally score the ball that well. He was seven for eight from the field and hit a lot of fifteen and seventeen foot jumpers. It was something that we haven’t seen much of on film but give him credit, he knocked down those shots for them tonight.”
On the last second play: “We kind of fumbled with the ball as we were coming down with the rebound. As we were coming down the court I looked and saw that their defense was out of sync. They were not matched up very well at all. As Martino came down with the ball, he had a good look and he had Poland wide open as well. That’s why I kind of held onto the timeout, because Poland had the hot hand and I thought we were going to make one more pass. He had a good look and the ball went in and out, so I don’t fault that shot. At that point and time I thought that was as good of a look as you would have gotten.”