PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) produced his fifth double-double of the season, but it was not enough as Rutgers (10-17, 4-10) fell to No. 22/24 Memphis (20-6, 9-4), 64-59, Thursday night at the RAC.
Jack finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Tigers, the third time this season he went over the 20-point mark. Junior guards Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) and Malick Kone (Conakry, Guinea) joined Jack in double figures with 10 points each.
Memphis started the contest with a 12-2 run before senior guard forward J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) scored five straight points to make it a 14-7 game with 12:30 left in the half.
After trailing by as much as 11 points in the opening stanza, the Scarlet Knights went on an 8-0 run started by an and-1 layup from Moore. A three pointer from Mack and driving layup by Kone made it a 24-21 game with 2:16 left in the first half. But after a late scoring run by the Tigers, Memphis entered the locker room with a 28-21 lead.
Moore paced the Scarlet Knights with eight points in the first half, while Kone secured four rebounds before the midpoint.
Jack took over the scoring load for Rutgers in the second half, producing 18 of his team-high 22 points after the break. His layup with 13:54 left in the game made it a 36-31 contest.
Memphis continued to add on to its lead as the half went on, but Rutgers answered with an 8-2 scoring run capped by a Jack reverse layup to produce a 53-49 score with 3:42 to go.
Both teams continued to trade baskets down the stretch, with a three-pointer by Mack with 4.0 seconds remaining making it a 62-59 game, but the Tigers held on for the victory. Guard Michael Dixon Jr. led Memphis with 15 points, guard Joe Jackson contributed 11 points and forwards Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols each pitched in 10 points.
The Scarlet Knights forced 16 Memphis turnovers and out-scored the Tigers 36-28 in the paint.
Rutgers returns to action Wednesday (Feb. 26) when the Scarlet Knights travel to the Sunshine State to face Central Florida. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPNU. Rutgers defeated UCF Jan. 15 at the RAC, 85-75.
- Junior forward Kadeem Jack scored a game-high 22 points and hauled in 10 boards for his sixth career double-double. It marks his team-high 23rd double-digit scoring game of the season and 28th of his career.
- Jack scored 20 or more points for the third time this season and in his career.
- Jack has grabbed at least six rebounds for the seventh time in the last eight games.
- Junior guard Malick Kone played a career-high 29 minutes. His previous best was 24 minutes, which he logged two other times, most recently vs. UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 25, 2012.
- Kone notched 10 points, the third double-figure scoring effort this season and his most points since scoring 11 against Stillman College on Nov. 25, 2013.
- Kone played at least 20 minutes in back-to-back games for just the second time this season. He scored at least six points in each of the last two games.
- With seven points, junior Myles Mack moved into 25th all-time on RU’s career scoring list with 1, 148 points. He passed Steve Kaplan (1969-72), who had 1,146.
- Mack dished the ball out seven times against Memphis, his most assists since recording eight against UCF on Jan. 15.
- Forward Junior Etou drew a charge in the second half, his fourth of the season.
- Jack had two dunks in the first half, his team-high 22nd and 23rd of the season. He threw it down again in the second half for his 24th slam of the year.
- Forward Greg Lewis made his second career start and first of the season. His only other start came vs. Villanova on March 6, 2012.
- Lewis tied his career-high with two assists.
- Eddie Jordan went with the starting lineup of forward Junior Etou, forward Kadeem Jack, forward Greg Lewis, guard Myles Mack, guard J.J. Moore for the first time this season.
- Rutgers moved to 0-2 all-time against Memphis.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening Statement: “That was one heck of a stretch for us with Memphis, Louisville and SMU. I feel we came and finished that with a great effort tonight. Memphis is a top-25 team. We just needed to get our offense going a little more, make a shot, get a little bit more of a run. We just couldn’t get that mini run, a 6-0 run or an 8-0, not a 15 or 20-0 run, but something substantial to put them on their heels a little bit. We just couldn’t get to that point. Our defense, I thought, was very solid. [Memphis] got more points in the paint then I would like in the first half, but that is how they live. We gave great effort to take things away, especially in the second half. It was a short rotation. I felt that I could trust those six guys that I rotated in the second half.”
On a short rotation: “It gets to a point where you are just going to play the guys you really, really trust. The guys who give great effort, the guys who are going to give the effort physically, the effort intelligently and the effort emotionally to stay in the game and do things right. That is why I stayed with them. Those guys gave me that. That is the message I am sending.”
On the use of players: “I wanted to use every guy. I wanted our guys to be a part of growing and coming together. But you put the rope out there, and guys who don’t tow the rope the right way it’s a short rotation. Again, it is trust and the guys who are going to do what we want to be done.”
On the three game stretch: “It was a heck of a window for us. We had SMU, Louisville and Memphis. That is a heck of a window. I thought we closed it out solidly with a great effort and a chance to win here against Memphis, who clobbered us [on the road]. We had to have some type of redemption. The first thing I asked was, ‘Do we belong?’ That was the first thing I asked in pre-game, ‘Do we belong?’ Yes we belong if we give this, if you do this and you do this and we did. We just didn’t get that little mini run, that dagger that just would get us over the hump. I thought we closed out pretty good. We have to take it to UCF and then bring it back home to USF. The carrot is still sixth place. Can we do it? I think we need help, but we have to help ourselves first.”
On the team’s overall performance: “I think we were aggressive and I thought the group did things well. When you play hard, you share. When you have some intelligence out there, good things happen. We got to the free throw line, but we missed some layouts we would like to have and some free throws. I like the way our personality was for the last 25 minutes.”
Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner
On high assist totals: “We are third in the country in assists and we were fourth last year. Tonight we had 16 assists on our 22 made field goals – we came in the game with about 65 percent of shots being assisted. We need to continue to do that and move the ball. We had too many turnovers with 34 in our last two games, not good. Some of those turnovers are unforced errors. It’s not like teams are pressing us, it is that we are not being smart with the basketball, too casual.”
On the lead narrowing in the second half: “We relaxed, but you have to give Rutgers credit. They play hard, are a good basketball club, are well coached and have good players. There is no excuse not to stay locked-in.”
On reaching 20 wins: “You don’t take 20 wins for granted, it is not a birthright. It is a special thing. I love our players for reaching 20. That’s my fifth straight year of reaching that and 14th in the program. It is a beautiful thing and again, not a birthright. It is a lovely thing – God bless the United States of America.”
On winning on the road: “We grinded out a win, it was not easy. Rutgers is a good team and plays very well at home. They are well-coached and have good players. All I know is we won and reached win number 20.”