PHILADELPHIA – The Scarlet Knights shot a season-high 58.8 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-17), but it wasn’t enough as Rutgers (8-13, 2-6) fell to Temple (6-13, 1-7), 88-82, at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday night.
RU trailed by as many as 20 (57-37) with 17:33 to go, but fought back to take a late 75-74 lead with 2:49 remaining, but couldn’t hold on. Rutgers outshot the Owls, 52.7 percent to 52.5 percent, and outscored TU, 45-38, in the second half. The Scarlet Knights committed just two turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
Junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) led Rutgers with 18 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) tied his career-high with 14 points, while senior guard J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) and junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) also finished in double-figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Rutgers got going early with the help of Etou, who posted five of the team’s first nine points. The Scarlet Knights held a 9-6 lead with 16:43 remaining in the opening half after an Etou jumper.
RU would take an 11-8 lead, before the Owls went on a 6-0 run to go on top 14-11 with 13:47 on the clock. Junior guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) knotted the game at 14-14 with a 3-pointer on the next possession.
The teams alternated leads, but with the help of four points from redshirt sophomore forward Greg Lewis (Baltimore, Md.), the Scarlet Knights took a 24-22 advantage at the 9:13 mark following two free-throws from Mack.
After the game was tied 26-26 following two of Jack’s eight first-half points at 6:44, Temple would take the lead for the remainder of the half. RU pulled within one (32-31) with 5:02 left before the break, but would not close the gap any further.
Leading 37-34 with 3:26 to go in the opening stanza, Temple went on a 13-3 run to enter the locker room at the midpoints with a 50-37 advantage.
The Owls continued their run, coming out of the break on a 7-0 spurt to lead 57-37. Jack ended the run with a three-point play with 16:59 remaining, putting him in double-figures with 11 points and making the score 57-40 in favor of Temple.
RU got within 11 (62-51) after an Etou three-pointer at the 12:28 mark. The Scarlet Knights continued to chip away and cut the lead to six (66-60) with another Jack three-point play, converting on the free throw after being fouled on an up-and-under layup with 9:11 remaining.
After holding Temple, Jack scored again for RU on its next time down the floor, this time cutting Temple’s lead to four at 66-62. Jack came through again later, draining a baseline jumper to trim the lead to 68-65 with 5:48 to go.
Later, down 74-69, Moore drained two clutch 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give RU its first second-half lead, 75-74, with 2:49 to go.
Temple answered, scoring eight of the game’s next nine points to take an 82-76 advanatge with 46 seconds remaining. A Mack 3-pointer would cut the lead to 82-79, but Temple would hold on for an 88-82 win.
The Scarlet Knights are back in action vs. Houston at The RAC on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNews. It will be “Basketball Bingo” night at The RAC, along with a halftime performance by basketball juggler Josh Horton.
• Rutgers shot a season-high 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from beyond the arc. It marked the highest 3-point field goal percentage in a game since the Scarlet Knights shot 66.7 percent (8-of-12) vs. Howard (Dec. 12, 2012).
• Junior forward Kadeem Jack led RU with 18 points, his 22nd double-digit scoring game of his career and 17th this season.
• Redshirt sophomore forward Greg Lewis tied a career-high with six points. He did it on two previous occasions, with the most recent coming vs. Army (Dec. 22, 2013).
• Lewis tied his career-high with three field goals. He also did it vs. Army (Dec. 22, 2013).
• Freshman forward Junior Etou tied his career-high with 14 points, his fourth double-figure scoring game of his career.
• Etou tied his career high with two 3-pointers. He also did it vs. UConn (Jan. 25, 2014).
• Etou made a career-high four free-throws. His previous high was three vs. Army (Dec. 22, 2013).
• Junior guard Myles Mack scored 10 points, his 55th double-digit scoring game of his career and 17th this season.
• Mack moved into 32nd place on RU’s career scoring list with 1,065 points, passing Damon Santiago (1,056) and JR Inman (1,060). He trails 31st-place Anthony Farmer (2005-09), who finished with 1,092 points.
• Senior guard J.J. Moore scored 13 points, his 13th double-digit scoring game this season and 36th of his career.
• Rutgers moves to 19-33 all-time against Temple.
• Eddie Jordan went with the starting lineup of forward Craig Brown, forward Junior Etou, forward Kadeem Jack, guard J.J. Moore and guard Jerome Seagears for the first time this season.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening statement: “It’s a tale of two halves, for us anyway. The first half, we didn’t defend. It was our worst defensive effort of the season. We didn’t guard the bounce. We didn’t stay up on the shooters. One bounce and they were by us for layups. We didn’t protect the paint. We didn’t rebound as well as we should have, even though I think it was even at the half. Offensively, we were horrible. We turned the ball over. We didn’t trust the offense. We were just scattered all over the place. Again, it was a tale of two halves. We come out and the second unit of guys, whether it was D’Von Campbell and the other guys off the bench who were solid running the offense. We trusted it. We played better defense. We used a lot or matchup zone and that sort of got us back in the game and helped us take the lead. We just have to make the game-winning plays at the end. We get two steals and we give it back away. It could have turned out our win, but again, you’ve got to make plays at the end. You’ve got to make plays. You can’t have missteps and misplays at the end and think you can win. You’ve got to make big plays at the end to win the game and we didn’t do it. We did it in New Jersey against this team and we just didn’t do it tonight.”
On his decision to play his backup guards, Campbell and Kone, for a long stretch in the second half: “It wasn’t a message. We were trying to win the game. Those guys deserved it. They did things right. They trusted the offense. They had discipline. It wasn’t a shock to the system when a shot when up with 30 seconds on the clock. You have to trust the offense. We wanted to move the ball. We’ve been working on it the last two weeks, to move the ball, move the ball and utilized the clock.”
On how it affected the interior defense without Wally Judge playing: “Again, coming in we said it was a big part of who we are. Wally is big for us. He had a great game against Temple in New Jersey. We said coming in that we have to play, if there’s anything as playing n110 percent, which I don’t know if that’s possible, we had to do it tonight because of him being out. Everybody had to give a little bit more with his absence.”
On if there was a message when he called timeout early in the second half down by double-figures: “I just felt that something didn’t feel right. It was just something didn’t feel right to me, whether it was our personality on the floor. We just looked too jagged too. We didn’t look sharp enough. I think that was probably most of it.”
On what RU did to hold Temple to 1-of-9 from behind the 3-point line in the second half: “I just thought we had more will and determination to get up into shooters. I thought the zone sort of threw off their rhythm. When you’re DeCosey and you’re Pepper and you’re coming off rhythm screens and rhythm catch-and-shoot, it’s a better feel for you as a scorer, as a shooter. Coming off of just a matchup zone, it’s a little different shot, a little different feel, and I thought maybe affected them. I don’t know. I thought from the way I looked at it, it probably did affect them.”
On what the team can take from coming back from a 20-point deficit to take the lead: “It showed that if you trust what we want you to do, if you execute the game plan defensively, if you just dig down and stay in front of people and you trust the offense and you give a little bit more effort and you just play with a lot of heart and soul, then good things happen. That’s what happened. That’s what I liked about our second half.”