PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Thanks to a jumper by junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y) with 11 seconds remaining, Rutgers (11-18, 5-11) completed a come-from-behind, 74-73, victory against South Florida (12-17, 3-13) Saturday afternoon at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights overcame a 15-point second half deficit to earn the win.
USF had an opportunity for the game-winning chance, but RU held in the final seconds to sweep the regular season series with the Bulls.
Jack and senior guard/forward J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) each scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights in the win, while Moore led the team in rebounds with seven. Jack was 7-of-15 from the field, while Moore shot 6-of-12 and was a perfect 7-of-7 at the free throw line.
Rutgers went nearly perfect from the charity stripe overall, shooting 20-for-22 from the free throw line for a 90.9 percentage. RU committed just four turnovers, their second fewest miscues this season.
After falling behind 5-2 to start the contest, the Scarlet Knights went on a 16-4 scoring run, culminating with a put-back layup by Moore. His tip in with 11:29 remaining in the first stanza gave RU a 18-9 lead, forcing South Florida head coach Stan Heath to burn a timeout.
USF fought back with a 14-4 run of its own, including a 3-pointer by forward Victor Rudd with 6:19 left in the half to give the Bulls a 24-22 lead.
A driving layup by junior guard/forward Craig Brown (Miami, Fla.) tied the score, but South Florida controlled the scoring down the stretch, entering the locker room with a 42-32 advantage.
Moore paced the Scarlet Knights in the first half with 10 points, while Jack and senior forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) each registered three blocks before the midpoint.
South Florida went up by as much as 15 in the second half before the Scarlet Knights began to chip into the Bull’s lead. Moore’s and-1 layup from the left side of the floor with 12:19 remaining made it just 52-49 in favor of USF.
The Bulls answered back with another basket, but junior guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Springs, Md.) and Jack drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, 55-55. For Jack, it was just his second 3-point field goal of the season.
After a turnover by South Florida’s John Egbuno, Seagears then found Moore for an alley-oop dunk to give the Scarlet Knights a 57-55 lead with 9:30 left in the half. The slam put RU ahead for the first time since the 6:43 mark in the opening half.
Both teams traded baskets after Moore’s dunk, with a 3-pointer by USF’s Rudd giving the Bulls a 65-64 lead with 5:56 to go. But a 6-2 run by RU, finished by two foul shots by guard/junior forward Malick Kone (Conakry, Guinea) gave the Scarlet Knights a 70-67 edge at the 3:28 mark.
After South Florida went up, 71-70, Moore corralled a offensive rebound off of 3-point attempt by junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) and was fouled on his layup attempt with 45 seconds remaining. He then sunk both foul shots to give Rutgers a 72-71 advantage.
Rudd then responded with a fade-a-way jumper from the top of the key to put the Bulls back on top, 73-72, with 32.8 seconds left before the final whistle, but Rutgers was able to convert down the stretch for the win.
USF was led by Rudd, who scored a game-high 26 points. Rudd was joined in doubles figures by Egbuno and forward Zach Leday with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Rutgers returns to action this Wednesday (March 5), when that Scarlet Knights travel to Storrs to face Connecticut at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
- Rutgers overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to win, the largest deficit the team has overcome since being down by 17 vs. DePaul on the road on Feb. 16, 2010. RU beat the Blue Demons, 68-64.
- RU overcame a 15-point second-half deficit. This season, RU had previously overcome an eight-point deficit to win on two occasions: vs. Yale (Nov. 14, 2013) and vs. Temple (Jan. 1, 2014).
- Redshirt junior Kadeem Jack scored 20 points, his fourth 20-plus game of the season and of his career.
- Senior J.J. Moore scored 20 points, his fourth 20-plus point game this season and seventh of his career.
- Moore tied his career-high in made free throws with seven. He also did it vs. Stillman (Nov. 25, 2013).
- Jack had three blocks, his sixth game with three or more blocks this season.
- Jack made a 3-pointer in the second half, the second of his career. His only other made 3-pointer came vs. Yale on Nov. 11, 2013.
- Redshirt senior Wally Judge totaled three blocks, his fourth game with three or more blocks this season.
- Moore had two dunks, giving him 16 on the season, the second-highest on the team.
- 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 13th this season.
- Rutgers improved to 9-5 all-time against USF.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
On the team’s play throughout the game: “The guys played hard for 40 minutes. Going back to the UCF game, we played pretty darn well for about 36 minutes and then for about three and a half minutes, we didn’t finish, especially at the defensive end. We came back and had some discipline, some toughness to play hard for 40 minutes.”
On Jack’s game-winning shot and play in the closing seconds: “He took it upon himself. He was accountable. One of the big plays at UCF was the drive dunk, and Kadeem probably should have been there for a shot block or taken a charge, so again, there’s a lot of things you learn from losing and we won [today] because for three and a half minutes we didn’t play tough enough at UCF.”
On Seagears and Moore solidifying the guard position: “It was good. Again, I haven’t really changed the rotation. It’s how you play as you go in and they did things right, they had good demeanor on the floor. There wasn’t any hanging of the heads and other things, but they trusted what we wanted them to do. There’s going to be some ups and downs in the game and they handled it pretty well.”
On what he said to his team when they were down 15 points in the second half: “One thing I did say was we can’t trade baskets. In order to win the game, we have to get stops and it was about not what I said, but who was in there and the people who were in there got it done. I think Craig [Brown] and Malick [Kone] were instrumental in that sort of a run, but it was in our players. I didn’t do a whole lot. It was just them, they learned from the previous game.”
On how much he felt the second effort by his players helped them cut down the deficit. “It was a whole lot of those type of players in the game. Guys who aren’t concerned about scoring, guys who won’t hang their heads. We’ve practiced for about five, six months and those guys are always the same in practice. They don’t care about their shots they don’t care about missing a shot they don’t care about not getting a shot; they don’t argue about calls.” Craig Brown, Malick, they’re big with that and they’re very versatile with their guard play.”
Rutgers Redshirt Junior Kadeem Jack
On the game-winning shot he hit with 11 seconds to go: “J.J. (Moore) had confidence in me and he passed it down. I waited until everybody cleared out and then made my move.”
On if he knew the ball was going to USF’s Victor Rudd at the end: “Yes, I actually told him, ‘I know it’s coming to you, so I’m going to play up on you hard.’ I guess I just had to play D on him.”
On what it means to be trusted to make the game-winning shot and also defend it on the other side: “I think a lot of people take pride in that and I also take pride in that. I just wanted to have a large affect on the game and I think tonight I was a big part.”
Rutgers Senior J.J. Moore
On Kadeem Jack with the late go-ahead bucket and the stop on the defensive end: “Like I say all the time, Kadeem is in the gym every day, shooting and working on his game. He has been progressing since he was a freshman. I knew that was his patented. He was taking a lot of jump shots and I told him to just attack the rim because that’s what he does.”
On his confidence level in Kadeem when he fed him the ball for the last shot: “It was definitely a high confidence level. I knew he could get it done. He can attack the rim hard, get a foul and that’s what he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the foul, but he attacked the rim hard.”
On the defensive stop at the end: “We know (Victor) Rudd was going to get the ball. Rudd had the hot hand. He hit a lot of jump shots. We knew, it was just try to contain him and try to block out the bigs because they’re going to crash the boards. That’s what we did, but he got a little tip that was a good look and we got a break from that.”
On his 20-point, seven-rebound performance: “It was big. My team always relied on me to attack the rim and knock down open shots and that’s what I tried to do today, just a little bit more attacking the rim so that we can create and dish off for shooters out on the wing.”
USF Head Coach Stan Heath
Game thoughts: “We played one heck of a game; we probably played thirty six minutes of the best basketball that we’ve played. We kind of let our guard down and they came back. It’s hard to lose a game like that. We just had so many opportunities.”
“It’s just one of those life lessons and we just have to move on.”
On the last second shot attempt: “I thought that we got everything we wanted. We got our best player with the ball (and) we got him going to the basket a few feet from the rim. It rimmed around and it rimmed around and we got the put back, which is something that happens a lot, where the second shot is what gets you. John had it about a foot away and he felt as though his arm was held on that play as well, but we came up short.”
“It’s not easy to win in Piscataway and this game just kind of got away from us.”