PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) scored 25 points, including the 1000th-point of his career, and dished out eight assists to help Rutgers (8-9, 2-2) to an 85-75 win over UCF (9-6, 1-3) Wednesday evening at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights led from start to finish and limited the visitors to 36 percent shooting to earn the victory.
Junior guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.), freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo), and senior forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) joined Mack in double figures. Seagears shot 6-of-10 to score 18 points, Etou made 6-of-9 field goals to post 14 points and Judge was 4-of-7 from the field to add 10 points.
The Scarlet Knights shot 47 percent (31-of-66), including 45.4 percent (10-of-22) from behind the arc. The home squad’s hand was especially hot in the second half, making 54.8 percent (17-of-31) and 50 percent (6-of-12) from long range.
Rutgers jumped-out to an 8-3 lead courtesy of four early points from junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.). RU maintained its advantage despite UCF battling to within a single point on two occasions. Leading 21-20, the home squad posted 14 of the games next 17 points to take an 11 point (35-24) advantage, its largest of the opening 20 minutes. During the stretch, Mack sank a pair of free throws to become the 40th player in Rutgers men’s hoops history to reach 1,000 career points.
Rutgers entered the locker room at the midpoint with a 35-26 lead.
Before the first media timeout of the second half, the Scarlet Knights stretched their lead to 13 points (45-32) on a J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) three-pointer. UCF battled back on multiple occasions in the final stanza, but Rutgers garnered a response.
The Knights cut RU’s lead to three points (68-65), but would get no closer. The Scarlet Knights answered with a four point run and then extended their advantage to double digits once again in securing the 10-point victory.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood on Sunday (Jan. 19) for a 1 p.m. (ET) tip-off at Houston. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.
- Rutgers is now 1-0 all-time against UCF.
- Prior to the game, there was a moment of silence for George (“Swede”) Sundstrom, who played for the Scarlet Knights from 1951-54. He passed away at the age of 80. He ranks third all time at RU with 942 career rebounds.
- Junior guard Myles Mack scored 25 points, becoming the 40th player in Rutgers history to reach the 1,000-point marker. He is the first since Dane Miller reached the milestone last season.
- Mack finished the game with 1,021 points for his career. He passed Andrew Kolbasovsky’s 1,015 and stands in 39th place in the RU record books. He is two points shy of Rick Dadika, who is 38th all-time at RU.
- Mack becomes the first RU player since Quincy Douby (2003-06) to reach the 1,000-point plateau as a junior.
- It marks the ninth-straight game Mack has scored in double figures and the 14th time this season. Mack has now scored 20 or more points 13 times in his career and six times this season.
- Freshman forward Junior Etou scored a career-high 14 points in the game. His previous best was 10 vs. Louisville on Jan. 4.
- Etou made a career-high six field goals. His previous high was four, which he did twice.
- Etou played a career-high 37 minutes. His previous best was 29 vs. Army (Dec. 22)
- Junior guard Jerome Seagears finished the game with 18 points. It marks the fifth time this season and 21st time in his career that he has scored 10 or more points in a game.
- Redshirt sophomore forward Greg Lewis tied a career-high with four rebounds. He has done it on two other occasions.
- Lewis tied his career-high with two blocks. He posted two blocks two other times in his career.
- Lewis played a career-high 20 minutes. His previous best was 16 vs. UMBC on Nov. 28, 2011.
- Junior forward Craig Brown posted a career-best two blocks. His previous best was one, which he did three times.
- Brown tied his career-high with six rebounds. He also posted six vs. Florida A&M on Nov. 8.
- Rutgers had four players score in double figures: Mack-25, Seagears-18, Etou-14 and Judge-10. The team improved to 7-4 this season when four or more players post double-digit points.
- Rutgers committed just nine turnovers in the game, the fourth time this season they have been under 10 in that category.
- Rutgers tied its season high for players with at least one block with five. They also did it in the season opener against Florida A&M (Nov. 8) and vs. Seton Hall (Dec. 8).
- 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 fifth time this season.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening statement: “It was a solid team effort from us. I thought our bench really contributed very well for us. We were in foul trouble much like Cincinnati and we just have to learn how to guard without fouling. Also, how to be ahead of the play defensively, but I like our competitive edge in the paint. I’d rather be over physical than less physical and if our bench can perform like that then we can survive the fouls. But again, the people who came off the bench helped us. Myles (Mack) obviously got hot at the right time and Jerome (Seagears) was very good in his role. I like him in that role. I like him being a catalyst and attack mode type of player coming off the bench.”
On Myles Mack: “I saw the stat board and he didn’t have any blocked shots and I was little bit disappointed. He made timely threes. He got to the line and made the free throws. He got some drives and dimes at the rim. Also, got some draw kicks for his teammates. Wally (Judge) played with his fouls and frustrations and I thought he was pretty effective coming down the stretch, too.”
On Mack’s leadership: “We are playing J.J. (Moore) at guard and (Malick) Kone at guard, so (Mack) has to take a load running the show and executing our play, quarterbacking our team. I think he got loose when Jerome was our second guard and then Myles could concentrate on being a scorer. It just helps him; it opens up the floor. They started a zone and I thought we were effective in it with Kadeem (Jack) and Wally and Junior (Etou). They were going back and forth zoning men. So we executed pretty well.”
On Kadeem Jack’s fouls: “He got a foul and it is no use to put him back on the bench he just loses all the rhythm of the game. You have to trust him a little bit. It didn’t work, but I knew our bench was playing well so I knew I could risk him with that fourth foul or third foul. It was risky either way. He got quick fouls. He went from third foul to fourth foul in a hurry and fourth foul to fifth foul in a hurry, but I’d rather him work through it opposed to sitting him on the bench and [losing the rhythm of the game]. So I took a risk and took a chance.”
On Junior Etou: “ Junior has been terrific for us. He rebounds. He shots threes. He makes threes. He makes free throws. He posts up. He defends. The remarkable thing about Junior is he defends threes. He had never done that, I don’t think, as a pacakage when he was younger. He was guarding centers and forwards in high school and now he is guarding DI, American Athletic Conference three-men. That is a huge adjustment for him and he has done very well with it.
On Junior Etou: “I am glad he is here with us. I am glad he got over his first semester freshman blues and on the court. He has a will to win and do things right. I am glad we have him; he is very special.”
UCF Head Coach Donnie Jones
Impressions of the game: "We didn't shoot very well tonight, but had some looks. Only shot just over 30 percent from the field and 20 percent on threes, but did hit a high number of free throws, which was good. I thought we were able to get the ball inside and grind. Rutgers shot the ball really well tonight, especially from the three-point line. Give them credit, they played well."
On run in second half: "I thought we kept grinding, got some shots and had some good execution. Getting some buckets in transition also helped. We were able to get close, but they kept answering each time."
On Rutgers: "They are a very talented team. I think they are getting better each game, having played well in each of their two losses as well. They have real good guards and size underneath."
On his team early in conference season: "We are still trying to find ourselves - this conference is all new to us. It is a different level and we are learning how to play on the road. We have to improve our execution and get stops on the road. However, there is still a lot of ball left to play - only four games in with 14 left. We have done some things well, such as sharing the ball. We just didn't make shots tonight."
On Isaiah Sykes: "He played well and is our team leader. We need that kind of effort from him every night, that gives us a chance. We just have to get more out of some others, haven't gotten too much lately."