PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Redshirt junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) shot 8-of-12 to score 18 points, including 14 in the second half, to help Rutgers (7-7, 1-0) to a 71-66 win over Temple (5-6, 0-1) Wednesday evening at the RAC in the American Athletic Conference opener. Senior forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) added 12 points and nine rebounds, as the Scarlet Knights out-scored the Owls 34-26 in the paint in a contest that featured nine ties and 20 lead changes.
Senior forward J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) and junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) joined Jack and Judge in double figures, adding 12 and 10 points, respectively. Moore was 4-of-6 from the field, while Mack dished-out six assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
Rutgers’ defense limited Temple to 33.3 percent (24-of-72) shooting. The Scarlet Knights were buoyed by a 50 percent (16-of-32) performance in the second half, en route to making 28-of-61 field goals (45.9 percent) overall.
Behind hot three-point shooting from Quenton DeCosey, Temple established a 24-17 lead with seven minutes remaining in the opening half. Rutgers responded by scoring nine of the game’s next 11 points, however, to tie the score at 26. Mack was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line to close the opening 20 minutes, as the teams entered the locker rooms at the midpoint tied at 30.
The opening stages of the second half were a back-and-forth affair, prior to RU utilizing a 6-0 spurt to develop a 49-42 lead. Temple reduced its deficit to a single point (52-51), before RU established another seven point (58-51) advantage with 6:40 on the clock. The Owls answered with a seven point run to tie the game. A trio of ties ensued in the following minutes.
The final minute, however, belonged to the Scarlet Knights. Trailing 66-65 with under a minute to play, Rutgers scored the game’s final six points. An old fashioned three-point play by freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) started the burst, which concluded with three-of-four free throws at the charity stripe.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood to host defending national champion and No. 14/10-ranked Louisville in a 6 p.m. tip-off at the RAC on Saturday (Jan. 4). The game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
- Rutgers improved to 19-32 all-time against Temple, winning six of the last eight games between the two teams.
- Junior forward Kadeem Jack tallied a team-best 18 points, his 13th double-digit scoring game in the last 14 games he has played in.
- Junior guard Myles Mack accumulated 10 points in the game, his 49th double-digit scoring game of his career and his 11th this season.
- Mack recorded a season-high seven rebounds. His previous best was four (twice).
- Mack’s line consisted of 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. It’s the first time this season he posted at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. The last time he did it was at Villanova on Feb. 18, 2013 (24p, 8r, 5a).
- Senior guard J.J. Moore scored in double figures (12 points) for the 34th time in his career and 11th time this season.
- Redshirts senior forward Wally Judge totaled a career-high five blocks in the contest, his 13th multi-block game of his career. He now has 16 blocks this season.
- Freshman forward Junior Etou scored a career-high nine points. His previous was eight vs. UNCG (Dec. 14).
- Judge scored 12 points, his 25th time in double figures in his career and seventh this season.
- With 11 seconds remaining in the first half, sophomore guard Kerwin Okoro entered the game, making his first appearance as a Scarlet Knight.
- Junior forward Craig Brown tied his career-high with two 3-point field goals. He also made two vs. Princeton (Dec. 11).
- Jack recorded two dunks in the second half, giving him a team-high 14 on the season.
- Rutgers had at least four players score in double figures for the ninth time this season and improved to 6-3 in those contests.
- Eddie Jordan went with the starting lineup of forward Junior Etou, forward Wally Judge, forward Kadeem Jack, guard Myles Mack and guard J.J. Moore for the second time.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening Statement: “Exciting game. Really, really intense and back-and-forth. I told the team after the game that we made a ton of clutch plays. It was clutch basketball. Not just a shot, not just a free throw; but a stop, a rebound, play-making, clutch game planning execution. I really respect [Temple head coach] Fran [Dunphy] and Temple. We've watched them, we had plenty of time to watch them with so many days off that it was a quality win. Obviously it was a quality win for us.”
On the importance of starting conference play with a win: “It was good, you know, it gave our guys confidence. We played with a lot of confidence tonight. It was sort of a different and renewed and refreshed presence out there from us. We talked about how it’s a new season. We learned a lot over the nonconference schedule. We played some good teams in my regard and the way I look at it, teams that executed. I thought we played really well defensively in the half court against a lot of teams that will use the shot clock and sort of prepared us for doing it tonight and moving forward. Our guys just toughed it out, we followed the game plan, we stuck to the things we were supposed to do, certain guys, I know a guy got off in the first half, a guy got off in the second half, but I thought we rebounded well and took care of the paint.”
On the play and development of Junior Etou: “Again, it was clutch basketball. I mean someone had to give him the pass. It was clutch basketball, just making a shot, making a free throw, getting a blocked shot, rotating, everything we did what we had to do the right way when we had to do it to win the game. There weren’t a lot of missteps, missed assignments.”
On the pick-and-roll with Junior Etou and Myles Mack that resulted in the three-point play: “We saw that they were over-playing us. Coming down the stretch they were over-playing on guards. We got some back-door cuts, we had some flashes, but I told the guys, ‘Look you got to read and deliver. You got to read the defense, deliver the play. You may have to deliver the pass, you may have to deliver the layup, you may have to make a rhythm jump shot,’ but we can’t choreograph from the bench what exactly is going to happen and what you have to do. You just have to allow the players to play the game and win the game.”
On the team’s effort defensively: “We rebounded the way we had to when we had to rebound. Again, I kept telling the guys we defended pretty well in the half-court, we just got hurt by threes, on rebounds and kick-outs, transition threes, not guarding a middle drive-and-kick, so those things we had to show up on defense. Intensity-wise, it just reminded me of in the NBA when the playoffs start, your team has a whole different approach. They move their feet quicker, they’re closing out on people, technique is better. Tonight, it was sort of reminiscent of that next level basketball. Another season basketball. That’s how we looked tonight.”
Redshirt Senior Forward Wally Judge
On what it’s like to win and play well: “It’s just one game at a time. The beginning of the season was rocky. We stuck to it. We stayed together and we’ve been playing together really well these last couple of games.”
On Junior Etou finishing a three-point play at the end of the game and his development: “He’s a tough kid. He’s from the Congo. I think he has dealt with a lot tougher things than that. He’s handling it well. He has been keyed-in in practice. He has his usual freshman lapses where he might lose focus or have a lack of energy, but as upperclassmen, that’s our job. Like me, Myles (Mack), J.J. (Moore), to step in and keep him in the game. A lot of times at night I was talking to him just to help him focus, just to keep him keyed in on everything.”
On the team’s defense today: “It was great to see guys step up. I said it to Craig (Brown), I said it to J.J. (Moore), I said, ‘Accept the challenge.’ A guy comes out hot and scores the team’s first 15 of their 21 points; it’s hard to kind of cool him down because at that time he’s feeling himself. The guys who had the opportunity to guard him, they keyed in more. They locked in and they made more shots tougher.”
On how much it means to win a game down the stretch: “It’s part of conference play, because conference play is going to be tough. You play against each team twice and you’ve got to grind out wins. This just shows the team maturing.”
Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy
On the team's overall performance: "Rutgers did a pretty good job defending us. Our shot selection isn't nearly as good as it needs to be. When you look at 24 baskets and only nine assists, we weren't moving the ball well. We weren't moving our bodies as well as we needed for us to be better on the offensive end. We had 19 offensive rebounds, which is pretty good, so the effort was decent, but we tried to take it into our own hands a few too many times."
On giving up the comeback lead: "It's disappointing, yeah. Something that we have talked about a lot and have been working hard at it. Just simple things. We were down four, and we get to the rim and we don't make that shot. We could maybe get a timeout right away or maybe cause another disruption. We need to be better down the stretch and that's on me as a coach. I have got to keep working at it."
On moving forward: "We had our chances. I think we had a couple of empty trips that don't help us. That is what we have to get better. We have to really know the game a little bit better. We took some shots that we just can't take.
On further conference play: "This is a really good basketball conference. This was our first game on the road and we are going to go on the road again Saturday against a team that I think is a really good team down in Central Florida. So we will have our hands full and hopefully we will do a good job preparing over the next couple of days and we will play our best basketball on Saturday."