Piscataway, N.J. – Rutgers (12-5, 3-3), ranked No. 46 in the latest NCAA men’s basketball RPI, hosts St. John’s (11-7, 3-3) Wednesday (Jan. 23) evening in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights are looking to begin BIG EAST play with a 4-3 mark, which would signal RU’s best start after seven games since joining the league in 1995-96. RU has met the Johnnies once already this season, earning a 58-56 victory at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Rutgers has defeated St. John’s twice in a season on two prior occasions, and will be looking to accomplish the feat for the first time since the 1978-79 campaign.
The game will be produced by the BIG EAST Network and will be televised live in high definition in the New York metropolitan region on SNY and via the web at ESPN3.com with Scott Graham calling the action and John Celstand 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, as well as on Sirius 123. Chris Carlin will serve as play-by-play announcer and Dick Lloyd will provide commentary. WRSU (88.7) will also broadcast the game.
Wednesday evening’s contest marks the 40th meeting between the schools dating back to 1974 with the Red Storm holding a 25-14 advantage in victories. The Scarlet Knights are 6-6 at home and 7-13 in BIG EAST regular season play versus the Red Storm. In a back-and-forth battle between the two metro rivals two weeks ago, Rutgers pulled out the two-point victory. Senior wing Dane Miller (Rochester, N.Y.) powered the Scarlet Knights with 11 points – all in the second half – adding six rebounds and three assists. He was integral on defense, forcing D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson into missed three pointers in the final 10 seconds. RU limited the Johnnies to 35.2 percent (19-54) shooting, including a 3-of-15 mark from behind the arc.
Rutgers is coming off a hard-fought, 69-66, loss at No. 20 Notre Dame on Saturday night. The Scarlet Knights trailed by 13 points in the second half and fought back to within one, 67-66, with 5.7 second to play. RU had the ball with an opportunity to win, but an offensive foul was whistled on sophomore guard Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.) to extinguish the comeback. Carter sparked Rutgers with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) added 12 points on 4-of-8 field goals, while Miller filled the stat sheet with nine rebounds, seven points, five assists and three blocks.
Mack leads the BIG EAST in free throw percentage (.929), while also placing third in three-point field goal percentage (.493), seventh in steals (1.88) and eighth in field goal percentage (.529). He is first among the league’s guards in field goal percentage. Carter is second in free throw percentage (.893), while placing 21st nationally in the category, and ninth in scoring (16.2). As a team, the Scarlet Knights lead the conference and place 31st nationally in free throw percentage (.745).
St. John’s, under the leadership of third-year head coach Steve Lavin, will be looking to win its third straight BIG EAST road game after a 71-62 win at DePaul on Saturday. Sir’Dominic Pointer registered his first-career double-double, posting 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, and Jamal Branch scored a career-high 18 points. Harrison, who leads the team and ranks second in the league in scoring (19.6), finished with 15 points, eight boards and three steals. The Red Storm lead the nation in rejections-per-game (8.4), as freshman Chris Obekpa is the country’s top shot blocker (4.83).