CINCINNATI – Despite a 17-point effort from junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.), the Scarlet Knights fell short at Cincinnati, 71-51, at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday night.
Mack’s 17 points led the Scarlet Knights (7-9, 1-2 AAC). Junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) joined him in double figures, posting 10 points and totaling a team-best nine rebounds, one short of a double-double.
The Bearcats jumped out to an early 8-4 lead to start the game. RU responded and started a 9-2 run with a freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) jumper at the 16:43 mark. Rutgers tied the game at 8-8 after a Mack layup with 16:06 left in the opening half. Mack gave the Scarlet Knights their first lead (11-8) with a deep 3-pointer at the 15:18 mark. Mack scored seven of RU’s first 11 points.
The Scarlet Knights continued to score, with a layup by senior J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) with 14:02 remaining in the opening stanza to give Rutgers a 13-10 lead, ending its run.
The teams exchanged leads, and Rutgers either led or was tied with Cincinnati for an 8:37 span since Cincinnati had a 16-15 lead at the 12:21 mark. The Bearcats took a two-point (30-28) lead at the 3:44 mark.
Cincinnati extended its lead to 31-28, before Rutgers went on a 4-0 run and regained the advantage, 32-31, with Mack made a layup on a fast break assist from Moore with 1:58 on the clock in the first half.
The Bearcats scored the final three points of the first half, all on free throws, to take a 34-32 lead into the locker room.
Down 34-32 to start the second half, the Scarlet Knights worked the game back to a tie, 40-40, on a two-handed dunk by Jack with 16:55 to go in regulation.
The Bearcats (15-2, 4-0 AAC) proceeded to go on a 12-2 run, holding a 10 point lead (52-42), the largest to that point of the game, with 13:14 to go in the second half.
Rutgers chipped away, cutting the lead to 52-48 with a Jack layup at 11:48, but Cincinnati would go on a 19-3 run to close out the game, grabbing a game-high 20-point lead at the end.
Rutgers is back in action at home, taking on American Athletic Conference foe UCF on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. in The RAC. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNEWS. The game against the Knights is “Dollar Dog Night.”
• The Scarlet Knights moved to 4-15 all-time against Cincinnati.
• Mack led the team with 17 points. It marks the eighth straight game he has scored in double figures and the 13th time this season.
• Mack has now scored in double figures 51 times in his career.
• Mack is four points shy of becoming the 40th player in RU history to score 1,000 for his career.
• Junior forward Kadeem Jack tallied 10 points, his 15th double-digit scoring game in the last 16 games he has played in. He also posted a team-high nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double.
• Junior forward Craig Brown tallied a career-high two assists. His previous best was one, which he did three times.
• Senior guard J.J. Moore tied his career-high with three assists. He had three five other times, with the last coming vs. Louisville this season (Jan. 4).
• Junior forward Kadeem Jack threw down a dunk in the second half, his team-high 15th of the season.
• Redshirt sophomore Stephen Zurich saw his first road action of his career at the end of the first half.
• Sophomore guard Kerwin Okoro played one minute at the end of the game, his first road action as a Scarlet Knight.
• 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 fourth time this season.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan Postgame Quotes
On what happened in the game: “We had some foul trouble issues. We went to our bench a little bit. We didn’t execute the as well as we should have. We would have four guys do something right, one guy wouldn’t. Three guys would do things right, two guys wouldn’t. It was a combination of their defense and our lack of execution. Not so much their defense, we just weren’t on the same page with five guys every possession.”
On what he saw specifically in the second half: “I’ll look at the film. I just thought that we didn’t have five guys on the same page on the possessions that we needed. We got stuck at (48-52) for a long time. We went to our need sets and we didn’t get good looks because we didn’t do things right. Was it their defense? Yeah, we’ll give them credit. When it comes down to it, we’ve got to make things happen. We’ve got to get it done. They played some zone and we put the ball where we wanted to, we didn’t finish the way we wanted to. Instead of taking the ball to the basket, which we did sometimes, we didn’t finish, and then sometimes we just bailed out with a jump shot. It’s a new team, trying to learn how to win. We’re trying to learn how to play together. We’re trying to learn how to win. I think we’re getting closer, but we’ve got to get it done.”
On encouraging things from the first half: “I thought we were aggressive against their pressure. We had worked on it since the Louisville game. We worked on it since preseason. I thought we got out, we got some fast break layups, and some open floor play against their pressure, which was good. Then, we came down, and we stayed organized against their pressure, so I don’t think their pressure bothered us too much.”