TAMPA, Fla. – Behind a career-high 31 points from redshirt junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.), Rutgers (10-14, 4-7) defeated USF (12-12, 3-8), 79-69, at the Sun Dome on Saturday night. It marked the first road victory of the season for the Scarlet Knights.
Jack was a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line en route to his game high total. Junior point guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) joined him in double figures with 15 points. Redshirt senior forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) put in a strong effort, posting 10 points and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. The Scarlet Knights out-rebounded the Bulls, 37-30, and held a 47.4 to 43.1 percent advantage in field goal percentage.
The Scarlet Knights started off hot, jumping out to a 15-2 lead by the 15:13 mark, which included seven points from Jack.
USF closed its deficit to 17-8, but a few possessions later freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) stretched RU’s lead to 14 (22-8) with a 3-pointer with 12:35 on the clock in the first, giving him six early points. The Bulls then put together a 13-4 run, cutting the Scarlet Knights’ advantage to 26-21 with 8:29 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Bulls continued to chip away, trimming RU’s lead to 30-26 6:21 on the clock. Jack answered on the next possession, getting fouled and draining two free throws to give him 13 first-half points, extending the advantage to 32-26. USF made the next three buckets, which included an and-one to shave the RU’s lead to 34-33 at the 2:54 mark in the first.
Jack pushed the lead to 36-33, giving him 15 first-half points, before USF scored the final bucket of the half, making the score 36-35 heading into the break.
USF took its first lead of the contest coming out of the break, scoring the first six points of the second half to take a 41-36 advantage with 18:26 to go. The Scarlet Knights went on a run of their own, scoring 14 of the next 16 points to retake the lead, 50-43, with 13:34 on the clock. The run included seven points from Mack.
The Bulls responded, going on a 10-3 burst to tie the game at 53-53 with 10:03 to go. Rutgers scored the next four points, which included a three-point play by junior guard Malick Kone (Conakry, Guinea), regaining a 57-53 lead at the 8:29 mark in the second.
With 6:13 remaining, Jack extended the advantage to 63-58, converting on an and-one three-point play. Behind two buckets from Judge, RU pushed its lead to 69-58 with 3:15 to go. The Bulls wouldn’t be able to close on RU, as Jack and the Scarlet Knights secured the 10 point victory.
The Scarlet Knights return home to take on SMU on Thursday, Feb. 13 at The RAC. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNews. The contest is scheduled for “Dollar Dog Night.” There will also be a halftime performance by the Marvelous Mutts.
• Junior forward Kadeem Jack scored a career-high 31 points. His previous best was 30 vs. FAMU (Nov. 8, 2013).
• It was Jack’s second 20-plus scoring game of the season and of his career. It was his team-high 20th double-digit scoring game of the season and 25th of his career.
• Jack notched a career-high in made free throws, going a perfect 13-for-13 from the line.
• Jack’s performance from the free throw line tied for the third best in RU history. It was the best since John Somogyi went 13-for-13 vs. Navy (March 1, 1972).
• Jack had a dunk in the first half, his team-high 18th of the season.
• Jack recorded one block, tying him with Byron Joynes (2003-07) for 18th all-time with 69.
• Junior guard Myles Mack scored 15 points, his 19th double-digit scoring game of the season and 57th of his career.
• With 15 points, Mack moved into 28th on RU’s all-time scoring list with 1,114 career points. He trails Jim Valvano (1964-67), who had 1,122 career points.
• With two steals, Mack moved into a tie for seventh place on RU’s career steals list. He now has 144, matching Kevin Troy (1977-81).
• Freshman forward Junior Etou posted a career-high three assists. His previous best was one, which he had previously done nine times, most recently at SMU (Jan. 21).
• Etou tied his career high with two made 3-pointers. He has done it two other times, most recently at Temple on Jan. 29.
• Redshirt senior forward Wally Judge scored 10 points, his ninth double-digit scoring game of the season and 27th of his career.
• Senior guard J.J. Moore dunked in the second half, giving him 12 on the season.
• Moore took a charge in the second half, tying him for a team-high six this season.
• RU improved to 8-5 all-time against USF.
• Eddie Jordan went with the starting lineup of forward Junior Etou, forward Kadeem Jack, forward Wally Judge, guard Myles Mack, guard J.J. Moore for the ninth time this season.
Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening statement: “We started off great. We had a good start to the game. Obviously, we knew they were going to come with a run and that’s what they did. They started to attack the paint and we said to our team, ‘This is the strength of their team. They attack the paint. They have good post play and their transition. They will get out on the break.’ That’s what happened. They got out on the break. We weren’t alert, we weren’t matching up. So, the second half of that first half wasn’t that good for us. However, we really tightened up the paint defense and Kadeem (Jack) was great and Wally (Judge) had a little bit of a juice in the paint to finish out the game.”
On Kadeem Jack’s game: “If Kadeem has a high motor, he’s very effective for us. If he’s in between that, and he’s below 80 percent energy as we like to say, he’s not being as effective as he needs to be for us to win. But, he found the creases in the zone. He found the driving lanes. We found him some high-low stuff. Wally was good with that. Our people were looking for Kadeem and he was aggressive and obviously, he made his free throws.”
On if you saw the game from him coming: “No. The thing we had coming in was, ‘Look, we’ve got to have great paint defense. At first we did. When they made their run, we didn’t. In the second half, I thought we were much, much better. As far as Kadeem, that’s every night. He needs to carry us, especially on the road. Your go-to guy has got to really do it for you on the road. Myles (Mack) didn’t have it going, he struggled, but Kadeem sort of picked up on that and was really aggressive.”
On how big it was for your team to pick up a win in on the road: “That’s big for us. Obviously, we have to have a goal, and it’s sixth place (in the conference), and hopefully we can achieve that goal. It’s a journey. Possession by possession is important to us. We can’t look too far ahead. Again, it was big for us to win on the road. Look, we watched tape on this team and they were playing great. They’ve got some big wins, SMU, they played Cincinnati great and they had another big game at UCF the other night in overtime. Those are big wins man. I’d say this team is red-hot. Their record isn’t indicative of their talent and what they’re doing at this part of the season. We got them when they were really going good and it was just one of those nights for them.”
On what he thought of Victor Rudd’s dunk: “Two points. Actually, it was three-point play wasn’t it? When you’ve been in basketball long enough, you’ve seen all types of dunks. In my mind, we just had to make sure our team didn’t get rattled. Obviously, it’s a highlight play, but it’s three points fellas, let’s keep doing what we have to do.”