New York, N.Y. – Led by 20 points on a BIG EAST Tournament record nine-for-nine shooting from Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.), Rutgers (15-15) downed DePaul (11-21) 76-57 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters. The 19-point margin of victory marked the largest ever for the Scarlet Knights in the BIG EAST Championship.
Rutgers advances to the second round and will play the No. 6 seed Notre Dame at 9 p.m. on Wednesday in a game to be televised live nationally in high definition on ESPN2. The Scarlet Knights are 3-0 thus far this season on “the deuce.”
Judge added 10 rebounds and two blocks for the Scarlet Knights. Sophomore Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) totaled 19 points and four assists. Sophomore Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) tacked on 15 points, as Rutgers shot 61.1 percent and totaled 50 points in the paint.
DePaul was led by Cleveland Melvin with 25 points.
Rutgers came out of the break on fire, hitting nine of their first 10 shots to take a commanding 52-39 lead. Judge led the run, scoring nine of the 20 RU points. The forward started the spurt with a turnaround lay-up in the lane and ended it with an eight-foot jumper.
DePaul would trim the lead to eight, 58-50, but Rutgers would not give in, busting out a 14-4 run and never relenting.
Rutgers went into the locker room with a one-point advantage, 32-31, after Mack buried a three pointer from the left wing at the buzzer. Despite shooting 60.9 percent from the field and out-rebounding the Blue Demons by a 17-8 margin, the Scarlet Knights were unable to build a significant lead because of 11 team turnovers.
After five-straight points by Mack, Rutgers took a 9-4 lead at the 14:25 mark. DePaul answered with 10 of the next 14 points to take its first lead of the game, 14-13, with 10:41 remaining before halftime. The Scarlet Knights answered with a 6-2 run of their own and neither team led by more than four for the remainder of the stanza.
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- Wally Judge posted a season-high 20 points on a BIG EAST Championship record 9-of-9 shooting.
- Judge registered a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. It marked his third double-double of the year and first since Nov. 12 vs. Sacred Heart.
- The 19-point win marked the largest for RU in BIG EAST Tournament history.
- The 76 points tied the mark for the most by a Rutgers team in the BIG EAST Championship (76 vs. Seton Hall on March 8, 2011).
- The 61.1 percent shooting was the best for RU in a BIG EAST Championship game and the best since Nov. 11, 2011 vs. Sacred Heart (.630).
- Head Coach Mike Rice moves to 2-2 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
- Rutgers moves to 7-13 overall in the BIG EAST Tournament. This marked the first time RU and DPU met in the championship.
- In the first round of the tournament, RU moves to 6-8 all-time and 2-1 under Rice.
- The Scarlet Knights hold a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series with the Blue Demons.
- Rutgers scored 22 of its 32 first-half points in the paint, including 20 of the first 24. RU ended the game with 50 points in the paint, the second-highest output this season (Sacred Heart, 51).
- Judge paced the squad in rebounding for the team-best 12th time this season.
- For the 22nd time this season and 37th of his career, Myles Mack posted double-figures with 19 points.
- Mack posted 10-points in the first half for the ninth time this season and first since at Villanova on Feb. 18. The Scarlet Knights move to 6-3 when the sophomore posts more than 10 points over the first 20 minutes.
- Jerome Seagears posted 15 points, his sixth double-digit scoring effort of the season and third-straight.
- Mike Poole has scored 36 of his 131 points at the Garden this season.
- The +16 rebound margin for Rutgers marked the most since Iona on Dec. 8(+18).
- Seven players scored at least four points.
- RU moves to 9-5 when three or more players post 10-plus points.
- With four assists, Dane Miller moves into the No. 11 spot all-time at RU with 309 career helpers.
- Head coach Mike Rice went with the starting lineup of Mack, Seagears, Poole, Judge and Johnson for the sixth-consecutive game.
- Wally Judge owns the longest active starting streak at 23-straight games.
COACH RICE: I thought for 40 minutes the energy, intensity, and the ability to play for one another was there. First half just too careless. You shoot 60 percent, outrebound them. I think we doubled in rebounding, just too many points off the turnovers.
Tremendous, probably one of our best execution games and balance. This young man beside me, this other young man beside me had tremendous balance tonight. It's what -- when I looked at this team on paper, what I envisioned.
Came a little later than I hoped, but, again, it's nice to have balance and nice to get a win against a very good DePaul team, well coached team.
Q. Wally was 9 for 9, 20 and 10. What does his performance tell you about him?
COACH RICE: Again, Wally and the whole team, no matter what happened this year, continued to work. It's not a doubt in my mind that he's improved every single day because of it. It allowed him to have a night like this, a record-setting night like this. Again, shows you potential.
It's a credit to him that he didn't hang his head. There were some rough times, and he just kept working. His response was tremendous.
Q. When you see a game like this where Wally does what you want him to do or Myles does what you want him to do and the offense sort of did what you envisioned, do you think what could have been this season if this had happened?
COACH RICE: No, I just won a game. Maybe in another two weeks. I thought we'd have more balance this year, and for some reason it didn't work out. Some days it did, it's just we didn't finish.
Again, who knows the growth of a team? It may take some longer than others. I believe in this team, the talent we had. I believed in the pride in which we conducted ourselves. Again, it was a good night, a very good night, and we now have to carry it on until tomorrow.
Q. Mike, in your opinion, why has Rutgers been so much better in closing out games in the last two in getting the lead and finishing strong?
COACH RICE: Hopefully, we've learned from our mistakes. Again, understand this may be the teams that we've beaten in the last two aren't maybe the teams that had double byes. I'm well aware of it, but it feels good. It feels good to understand.
Really, guys in the huddle from the 12-minute mark yelling don't get happy. Don't get happy. Usually we went on a run like that, guys were too happy and lost focus. These guys really, they didn't need to police anybody in the huddle today. They were doing it themselves, and that was a good sign.
Q. During the sprint to the second half, what was it like to see the game start being played at DePaul's pace, very back and forth?
COACH RICE: I like that pace. When you have two small guards and you have bigs that can run like that, I thought our depth was good. It was Mike Poole again showing in Madison Square Garden. I don't mind playing at that pace. I know he doesn't. I know they all do. Something we're very comfortable with.
Maybe at the three-minute mark, I didn't necessarily need the alley-oop pass to Dane, but, again, they were feeling very confident, and they were sharing the game.
Q. Wally, this was your best game at Rutgers. What got into you tonight? Why don't you think that was there all season? Can you do it again tomorrow?
WALLY JUDGE: I think two things came to a factor. One, we picked up the bigs. That's a personal shot. Whether it was me or A.J. or Kadeem, we all contribute, and we all played hard tonight.
As far as it being my best game, coach also said that March don't care. Not in those words, but he said March don't care.
COACH RICE: Yes, I did say in those words.
WALLY JUDGE: Anything can happen. You seen Connecticut do it. You've seen George Mason do it. Anything can happen. That's how you've got to play every game, like 0-0.
Q. Mike, can you just talk about the effort that Jerome had to kind of fill the whole stat sheet up in the game.
COACH RICE: He had tremendous energy. One time in the second half I forgot -- it was the 11-minute mark, and he hadn't been out. So he kind of did it all for us. Got a little carried away in the first half maybe with some mistakes, but, again, when we have that floor leader and now him and Myles are kind of sharing the duties of being that floor general.
But he gives so much. You see his talent. You see the athleticism and the skill. Now the purpose is coming. It's taken him -- believe me, we've had a lot of discussions about purpose and playing at your own tempo. Boy, he had a great tempo about him tonight.
Q. Did you hear the pep band chanting your name as you walked off the court?
COACH RICE: Myles or me?
COACH RICE: No. Again, I love the pep band and the cheerleaders. I really like their enthusiasm. Again, this is their team as well.
Q. Just a followup on that, just given Tim's vote of confidence for you for next year, was it important for you personally to have this kind of game?
COACH RICE: I'm glad he did, but, again, right now my focus completely is on this team, preparing them for DePaul, preparing them for Notre Dame. That was something that was needed maybe outside because the recruiting aspects and different aspects.
But, no, I'm thrilled with this team. I think he sees the potential in this team. He sees the growth and development in this team. And, again, as I said time and time again, this is going to happen. Rutgers basketball is going to happen. It's just slower than some people like, and maybe their coach, but it's going to happen.
Q. Mike, in preparing for Notre Dame, how do you kind of get ready for them on a short notice like this?
COACH RICE: It will be difficult, but we'll have engaged individuals. Again, when you're playing back to back nights, you're going to go on a lot of things that we've already done.
We've played them. We've dealt with a lot of situations that they may possess and just go out and have fun. The coaches will have a long night, but the guys will get good sleep. Again, we'll have all day to prepare.
But it's exciting just to be there.
Q. Mike, did you prepare differently for DePaul than the last time? What was different?
COACH RICE: Different emphasis. Our bigs were so -- they weren't bad. They just weren't in the game against DePaul the first time. Maybe they weren't -- Wally, one of his answers was because he got the ball tonight. So that's developing our young guards, just having the trust in our bigs.
So we really wanted to -- we thought, if we had one advantage, that's where our one advantage was, was to go inside. It started from the first play and to almost the last play.