PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Despite 19 points from senior guard/forward J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y) and a double-double by junior forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y), Rutgers (11-20, 5-13) fell to No. 15 Cincinnati (26-5, 15-3), 70-66, in a hard-fought matchup Saturday afternoon at the RAC.
The tight contest featured five lead changes and three ties, with the Scarlet Knights leading by as much as eight in the first half and trailing by as many as 10 in the second half.
Moore scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, while Jack produced 15 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Junior guard Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) also joined Moore and Jack in double figures with 10 points while dishing out a career-high tying nine assists.
It was the last home regular season contest for both seniors Moore and forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C), who were honored before tip-off. Judge finished the game with eight points and six rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights started the game off strong, stringing together a 13-5 scoring run to open up the contest. A full-court pass by Mack to Jack for a one-handed dunk forced Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin to call a timeout with 12:35 remaining in the half. Moore scored seven points during the scoring stretch.
Cincinnati would claw its way back into the game, with a layup by guard Troy Caupin putting the Bearcats up, 17-15, with 8:52 left before halftime. Both teams would trade baskets until the end of the first half before Cincinnati entered the locker room with a 35-28 lead.
Moore led the Scarlet Knights with nine first half points, while Jack hauled in five rebounds before the midpoint.
RU started the second half with a quick 4-0 scoring run, including a put-back dunk by Judge to make the score 35-32 in favor of Cincinnati with 18:44 left to play.
The Bearcats answered, going up by as much as 10 in the second half. But RU continued to chip into Cincinnati’s lead. A corner 3-pointer by sophomore guard/forward Kerwin Okoro (Bronx, N.Y.) brought RU to within three, while four straight points by Moore made it 55-54 in favor of Rutgers with 9:06 left to play. It was the Scarlet Knights first advantage since the 9:38 mark in the first half.
Cincinnati reclaimed the lead with a 3-pointer by Sean Kilpatrick with 8:34 to go to put the Bearcats up, 57-55. Rutgers responded when Jack made 1-of-2 free throws to bring the Scarlet Knights within one point. Kilpatrick then scored with one free throw before two foul shots by Mack tied it at 58-58 at the 7:39 mark.
The Bearcats would go up by as much as five after that point, but a two-point jumper by Mack from the right side of the floor with 2:54 left gave the Scarlet Knights back the lead, 64-63.
Cincinnati went back on top thanks to a 7-2 scoring run down the stretch and never relinquished the advantage again. Kilpatrick led all scorers with 24 points, while forward Justin Jackson produced a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. RU held Cincinnati to just a 45 percent shooting percentage from the field while forcing 12 turnovers.
Rutgers outscored Cincinnati, 38-35, in the second half and drained seven 3-pointers in the loss.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood Wednesday, March 12, when the Scarlet Knights take on the loser of Saturday afternoon's game between USF and Temple in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. RU will be the No. 7 seed in the conference championship, with the opening round contest being broadcast live at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
- Rutgers honored Wally Judge and J.J. Moore in senior day ceremonies prior to the game. Student managers Paul Crosby, Stan Tuchez, Chris West and Jimmy McDonough were also honored.
- Junior forward Kadeem Jack scored 15 points, his 26th double-digit scoring game of the season and 31st of his career.
- Jack grabbed 12 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season and seventh of his career.
- Jack tied his career-high with 37 minutes played. He also did it vs. SMU on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Junior guard Myles Mack tied his career high with nine assists. He also did it at UAB on Nov. 11, 2013.
- With 10 points, Mack scored in double figures for the 25th time this season and 63rd time of his career.
- Jack posted two dunks, giving him a team-high 26 on the season.
- Senior guard J.J. Moore posted a team-high 19 points, his 17th double-figure scoring effort of the season and 40th of his career.
- Moore came into the game with 970 career points. He now has 989.
- Moore tied his career-high with 35 minutes played. He also did it vs. Drexel on Nov. 19, 2013.
- Sophomore Kerwin Okoro made a career-high two 3-pointers. His previous best was one, which he did three times.
- Okoro tied his career high with three made field goals. He also did it at Louisville on Feb. 16, 2014.
- Okoro played a career-high 18 minutes. His previous best was 17 at Houston on Jan. 19, 2014.
- Redshirt Senior Wally Judge threw down two dunks, giving him 15 on the season.
- Judge tied his career high with three assists. He has done it three other times, most recently at Seton Hall on March 8, 2013.
- 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 15th this season.
- Rutgers moved to 4-16 all-time against Cincinnati.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
Opening statement: “First of all, I want to thank the fans and the Rutgers community for supporting us and it was a terrific turnout today. I hope they understand that the process has been successful so far, doesn’t matter what the record is. We learned how to compete with integrity, we learned how to compete with composure; we’re coming together as a team. Our kids are doing terrific off the floor and the process is successful. Is it a step ahead? A step behind? I think we’re right on target. Obviously we would have liked to win more games and maybe have a few upsets, but I’ve never given up on our players through the tough times and I don’t think they’ve given up on me. Kerwin Okoro is a perfect example. It’s hard not having a winning season. It takes a lot out of your emotional state, you’re ancy to win, disappointed about losing, but our kids came to practice every day and you know what? We have other things to accomplish. We have practice on Monday and going to Memphis to play the loser of the game (Temple/USF) today and we’re looking to compete even better.”
On the difference down the stretch for Cincinnati: First of all, they have a terrific player [Kilpatrick] who could be a pro. He took the game on that final drive. On that timeout we said there’s not going to be anything tricky. It’s just going to be a straight line drive, its either going to be a post up, a straight line drive or someone coming off of multiple screens to catch and shoot. If I was a betting man I would think it would be a drive, but they spread the floor and a great player will have an advantage.”
On how Okoro has earned more playing time: “His attitude, is demeanor, his behavior; he’s got a terrific positive and bright personality. You love to see it. Every day he comes to practice and he works harder probably than anybody else. He’s probably lost 20 pounds in the last five, six weeks. If it were up to him he’d say it was four weeks he lost 20 pounds. He worked his tail off and you can see it. He started off late, Okoro was our fourth guard when we started out the season and what happens is he’s injured right before the season starts. It took him six weeks or so to get him back healthy, so he started behind. So the process was a little bit longer for him and I’m happy for him only because of his heart and the ability to be a terrific teammate.”
On how he dealt with Cincinnati pulling away late in the game: It’s not frustrating, it’s just a challenge for me to find the right kids to make sure we get in the right offensive set, to make sure they’re still locking in on defense, so it’s not frustration. For me, it’s what buttons I push and I better not be frustrated. I better be on my P’s and Q’s to get those things done.”
Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin
On winning at least a share of the conference regular season championship: “Winning the conference in a real formidable league is good. We have five teams in the top twenty. We have good coaches. Look when you play against a team like Rutgers, Kadeem Jack is a big time player. I’m really proud of our guys for being able to grind out a victory. Fifteen and three in our league I thought would be pretty strong. With Louisville in our league and with Russ and Luke being seniors, I thought that fifteen and three would be the mark. In my mind we won the championship. Whether it’s shared or not it doesn’t matter.”
On the team’s play: “Our guys were so tired and emotionally drained with everything that happened at home. The emotional high and the adrenalin. I told Kevin Johnson to get ready to play. I told him, Jermaine and Dave Nyarsuk, who I didn’t get a chance to get in the game, that our seniors weren’t going to be able to carry us today after what happened the other night and the quick turn around.”
“I thought the key of the game today was our twenty five bench points. When they started banging in threes, from a couple guys that haven’t hit them for them all year, I knew it was going to be a dog fight.”