PISCATAWAY N.J. – Behind double-digit scoring efforts by sophomore guards Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J) and Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) Rutgers (13-10, 4-8) outlasted Seton Hall (13-12, 2-10), 57-55, in a wild finish in part I of the annual “Turnpike Tussle” at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
Carter finished with 10 points, while Mack contributed 10. The duo complemented the play of seniors Dane Miller (Rochester, N.Y.) and Austin Johnson (Elkins Park, Pa.), who both turned-in solid evenings. Miller, who became the 39th player in RU men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, had seven points, four assists, four rebounds and two blocks. Johnson, who earned the annual Joe Calabrese Player of the Game Award, shot 4-of-7 to score eight points with four rebounds.
The Pirates were down by as many as 12 in the second half, but rallied back with a 15-4 run that began with 3:58 remaining in regulation.
A three-pointer by SHU’s Edwin Fuquan, who led all scorers with 18 points, made it a 56-55 game with three seconds remaining in regulation, but after Carter knocked down one-of-two free throws, the Pirates’ half-court heave went off the top of the backboard, concluding the contest.
The Scarlet Knights watched their lead diminish to a one possession game with :24 seconds remaining after a three-pointer by SHU’s Kyle Smyth. It was the first time since 14:26 was left to play in the second half that the Pirates were within one score.
A three-pointer by SHU’s Aaron Cosby cut the RU lead to 52-46 with 2:30 left in regulation after the Pirates trailed by double-digits for most of the period. But Carter responded by sinking two free throws in the following possession, building the Scarlet Knights’ lead back up to eight.
RU led by as many as six points early in the second half before SHU cut the lead to three with 14:26 remaining. From there, the Scarlet Knights would mount a 10-0 run, with five of those points coming from Miller. He surpassed 1,000 career points on a put-back layup with 9:33 to go in the contest, giving RU a comfortable 47-34 lead.
Carter knocked down two three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half, as sophomore Derrick Randall (Brooklyn, N.Y.) provided valuable minutes for RU. A Randall layup at the 12:24 mark bumped the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 40-34 and forced SHU into a timeout.
After a strong offensive start to the contest, RU relied on stifling half-court defense to keep the Pirates at bay in the first half. The Scarlet Knights held SHU to 30.4 percent shooting from the field, while Mack led the team with 10 first half points.
Sophomore forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) provided 10 key minutes in the first half, snatching five boards and scoring four points. He finished the contest with four points and led RU with eight rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights stormed out of the gates to begin the contest, converting three of their four attempts from the field to take an 8-0 lead and force Seton Hall into an early timeout. Mack and Carter, who knocked down his first shot attempt for the second straight game, each drilled three-pointers in the game’s opening minutes.
RU travels to Rosemont, Ill., this Saturday (Feb. 16) to take on DePaul at Allstate Arena in a 1 p.m. tip-off. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU. The Scarlet Knights have won four of their last five contests against the Blue Demons, but lost, 69-64, in the most recent matchup last season at the RAC.
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- With seven points, Dane Miller becomes the 39th player in Rutgers program history to reach 1,000 points.
- Miller has scored 87 of his career points against Seton Hall.
- Senior Austin Johnson received the Joe Calabrese Memorial Award as the game’s MVP.
- The 11 team blocks marked the most this season and the highest total since Monmouth on Dec. 12, 2011. It marked the most swats in a BIG EAST game since St. John’s on Feb. 2, 2010.
- Rutgers rises to 28-35 all-time against Seton Hall. The Scarlet Knights move to 16-15 all-time at home vs. the Pirates.
- This marks the first win at home vs. SHU for RU since 2007.
- Sixteen of the last 18 games in the series have been decided by six points or less or in overtime, including tonight’s 57-55 win.
- For the sixth time this season – and first since UAB on 12/16 – Myles Mack posted double-figures in the first half. Rutgers moves to 6-0 when Mack scores 10-plus in the first half.
- Mack scored double-digits for the 17th time this season and 32nd of his career. The sophomore has scored 10-or-more in three of the last four games.
- For the 18th time this season, Eli Carter notched double-digits with 14 points. The sophomore paced RU for the 12th time this season.
- When Eli Carter makes his first shot attempt, he is now averaging 16.8 points per game and scored 10-eight times.
- Rutgers held Seton Hall to just .367 percent shooting from the floor – the lowest for an opponent since St. John’s (.352) on Jan. 9.
- Kadeem Jack paced the team in rebounding with eight boards. The forward is tied with Wally Judge, leading the team in rebounding nine times this season.
- Head coach Mike Rice went with the starting lineup of Mack, Carter, Seagears, Judge and Johnson for the second-straight game – his 10th different starting lineup this season.
- No Scarlet Knight has started more than 16-straight contests (Wally Judge).
- This marks just the second win (2-8) when Rutgers shoots less than 40 percent and first in BIG EAST play.
- RU moves to 4-7 when less than three players post 10 points.
- The 13 RU assists marked the most since Notre Dame on Jan. 19.
Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice
Opening statement: “We’re certainly not going to ship this one off to the Hall of Fame anytime soon, but as my daughter told me today when I asked her ‘Katie, what’s the key to the game tonight?’ she very candidly said, ‘Score more points, Dad.’ That’s the object, and we did that. I think we had a lot of contributions from a lot of players. [We had] 11 blocked shots and guys stepping up and making winning plays. I certainly would have liked to have maybe executed and played with a lead better, but again, I’ll take it. I give Seton Hall credit; they are very well coached and never quit. They’re always dangerous because of how well they shoot the three.
On the importance of the win: “[The win was] very important. It’s the BIG EAST. You’re scratching and clawing to work yourself out of a rut here, and every time people keep throwing more dirt on you, it’s hard. It’s hard to shake it off and step up and that’s what we did tonight. It certainly wasn’t pretty, and we got in foul trouble early, but we had guys step up. It feels good to get a victory. It takes the pressure off your shoulders, so to speak, so maybe now we’ll play a little looser and a little better.”
On using a lot of players: “I think that’s what this team has to be. I thought we shared the game. I liked our shots in the second half. We had some wide open shots, we had some layups, we got fouled, and we kept attacking. They were playing our wings so hard that it was hard to run an offense, to be honest with you. Kevin (Willard) did a good job. What you had to do was put your head down and make something happen, and I thought we did that.”
“[We had] guys stepping up: Austin Johnson continuing to have a good game, Wally in the first half unfortunately got into some foul trouble, and even Kadeem (Jack). Kadeem was so active; he was all over the place. That’s the Kadeem Jack, and I need to get that more consistently from those guys.”
On Dane’s 1,000th point: “He gave us a lot of energy. He’s given us energy and he’s given us a purpose. He gives us that boost off the bench, and defensively he was really good tonight. When I watch film tonight – he was really good tonight. From his switches and his purpose, and coming from the weak side and blocking shots, it’s good to have him rewarded tonight because he’s so unselfish. So for him to get 1,000 points, it means a lot.
On Mike Poole’s end-of-game steal: “I forgot to hug Mike in the locker room – I apologize, Mike Poole. That’s huge. He could have gotten angry at his teammates, and he could have gotten down. He could have been like the coaches who were all flabbergasted, but he didn’t and he went to the next play, and he made a winning play for his team. I give Mike a lot of credit. That’s the mental toughness I expect from a junior captain.
Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard
On Strategy at the End of the Game: “Just attack and space it out. We had all four guys out there that could shoot. Obviously throwing it to Mike [Poole] was not the best option, but it happens. I just think we were all a little surprised [Eli Carter] took the layup, then when he missed it we were all like ‘Oh geez, look what we’ve got.’ At some parts of the game you just try to advance it and attack and we turned the ball over.”
On Rutgers’ 10-0 Run Midway Through the Period: “Dane [Miller] likes to play against us. I always like to see Dane; he always like to save his one three-pointer in BIG EAST play for us. I’m sure he’ll have another one late in the game [next time]. I thought we had two blocked shots and they got two deep threes in transition and that made a big difference. We had two opportunities going to the rim, Eugene [Teague] one time, and I don’t know who blocked it. But I think those two blocks and when Eli hit a big three, then Dane hit a big three, that was a big difference.”
On the Difference Down the Stretch: “We kind of go in spurts where we kind of go a little lackadaisical defensively, and it makes us a little lackadaisical offensively. I thought we did a better job of getting after it defensively and getting some easier opportunities. I thought Eugene did a good job of getting better position and using his body well.”