Villanova, Pa. – Sophomore guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) shot 7-of-11 to score 24 points while grabbing a career best eight rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome Villanova’s 56.5 percent (13-of-23) second half shooting in a 71-63 loss to the Wildcats at The Pavilion Monday night. VU made 60 percent (6-of-10) of its attempts from behind the arc and scored 14 points off turnovers after the break to ensure the victory.
After posting a career-high 28 points at DePaul on Saturday, Mack had the hot hand once again. In addition to his shooting exploits versus the Wildcats, he deposited 9-of-10 from the charity stripe and dished-out a game-high five assists.
Redshirt sophomore forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) also had a strong game for the Scarlet Knights. He was 6-of-12 from the field to post a career-high tying 12 points while cleaning the glass on seven occasions.
Sophomore guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) joined Mack and Jack in double figures, contributing 10 points.
It was a tale of two halves for Rutgers (13-12, 4-10). Trailing 14-8 at the 12:23 mark of the opening half, the RU defense would not allow a field goal for the next 10:18, exploding for an 18-3 run. Mack led the charge, scoring 14-straight points to give the Scarlet Knights a nine-point advantage, 26-17. RU would hold serve for the remainder of the half, increasing their advantage to 12 points (31-19), before taking a 31-21 lead into the locker room at the midpoint.
After a long two-point field goal by Mack to start the second half, Villanova climbed back thanks to its pressure defense, posting a 23-10 run to take a one-point lead, 44-43. Despite the Wildcats success from behind the arc, RU remained close. Trailing by one with five minutes to play, however, the Wildcats score eight of 10 points to take a 65-58 edge with 2:45 to go and never looked back.
After struggling from the free throw line in the opening 20 minutes, Villanova (17-10, 8-6) made its attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.
The Scarlet Knights return to the friendly confines of the RAC to host Providence Saturday (Feb. 23) evening in a 9 p.m. tip-off. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
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- Mack surpassed the 20-point plateau for the second-straight game and fourth time this season with 24 points.
- Mack scored double-digits for the 19th time this season and 34th of his career. The sophomore has scored 10-or-more in five of the last six games.
- For the eighth time this season – and third-straight –Mack posted double-figures in the first half. Rutgers moves to 5-3 when Mack scores 10-plus in the first half
- Mack broke his career high with eight rebounds. It marked the first time in his career the sophomore has paced RU in boards.
- Mack dished out five or more assists (five) for the fourth time this season and sixth of his career.
- For the second-straight game, Mack posted a run of 14-or-more straight points (16 vs. DePaul).
- Kadeem Jack tied his career high with 12 points. The redshirt sophomore also broke personal bests in field goals made (six) and attempted (12).
- Jack posted double-figures for the third time this season and first in BIG EAST play.
- Jerome Seagears posted double-figures for the 13th time this season and the first since Cincinnati on Jan. 30 with 10 points.
- Three players scored in double-digits for the first time since Jan. 30, 2013 (at Cincinnati).
- RU moves to 9-4 when three or more players post double-figures.
- Rutgers held its largest halftime lead (10 points) since Pittsburgh (14 points) on Jan. 5.
- Head coach Mike Rice went with the starting lineup of Mack, Seagears, Poole Judge and Johnson – his 11th different starting lineup this season.
- Wally Judge owns the longest active starting streak at 18-straight games.
- Against Villanova, Rutgers moves to 9-29 all-time. RU is 2-12 on VU’s home court and 5-16 in BIG EAST regular season play.
- Rutgers held Villanova to .300 (6-of-20) shooting from the floor in the first half. It marked the lowest for a BIG EAST opponent in a half and the lowest for a RU opponent since Rider on Dec. 28.
- Of the nine players that saw action, six scored at least four points.
Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice
Opening Statement: “As good as we executed in the first half, Jay (Wright) made some adjustments with his half-court trap and not allowing us to run offense was a good decision. I don’t think we responded the right way. Usually, I like people to trap us because we just put our heads down and play basketball. We tried to run away from them instead of being strong. They countered with their three-point shooting in the second half. Three or four of them were contested and that is what good teams do. A lack of response with taking care of the ball combined with their three-point shooting in the second half was a little too much to overcome, even with Superman over here (Myles Mack).”
On team's response to losing Eli Carter: “I liked it. I like this team. Even if I am frustrated with the results, these guys try hard. It’s just, I always have saying in the locker room. A sign of a bad team is that you make the same mistakes. 19 points off turnovers in the BIG EAST can’t happen. We just have to be stronger. Slow down and be stronger.”
On ball handlers: “You have Jerome (Seagears) and (Myles Mack). We have to be smarter and stronger with the basketball. That’s what it is. You’re in the BIG EAST. You’re going to get double teamed. You’re going to get pressured. They’re going to respond. I didn’t like how some of our guys responded. They responded without a strength, a toughness to them. They’re trying to outrun people, run away from them. You don’t do that. We’ll learn from it. It was a team effort, a resolve, but those two things doomed us.”