Early RU turnovers, UofL 3-pointers seal fate
While Louisville shot the lights out of the Louis Brown Athletic Center from 3-point range en route to a 55-37 win, the Rutgers basketball team struggled early just to get a shot off.
The Scarlet Knights' first three possessions resulted in a trio of turnovers, and it was not until the 14:49 mark that Rutgers made its first shot from the floor.
"The first four minutes of the game, we'd have a play, and they'd just run around and not execute," said head coach Mike Rice. "That's on me. I have to figure out how to get my message across better."
Rutgers spent much of the shot clock trying to get to half court while being pestered by the speed and tenacity of the Cardinals' full-court press.
By the time the Knights were able to go into their offensive sets, the clock was working against them.
"Ball movement and offense [were lacking]," said senior guard Mike Coburn. "The ball really just stuck on one side. We didn't get that much movement."
The Knights turned the ball over 10 times in the first half to go along with just eight field goals from the floor. While on the other end, Louisville's sultry seven 3-pointers in the opening stanza covered up its eight turnovers.
"It's basketball. People are going to make shots, and you have to play," Coburn said. "If you're not going to play your offense because the other team is knocking down shots, then you are never going to win."
The loss marks the seventh time in the past eight tries that the Knights found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard. While Rutgers dropped the past two by just a combined nine points, the 18-point defeat at the hands of the Cardinals marks the largest defeat the Knights suffered on the year.
"I know we've been close so many times and this and that, but tonight we just fell down a hill instead of trying to climb over," Rice said. "The climb was too hard tonight."
With only three games left in the season, Rice admits that his team is starting to show wear and tear.
"No question [this team is out of gas]," he said. "And I never thought that possible, but what am I going to do, lie to you?"
Every member of the roster saw at least one minute of action, and only Coburn surpassed 30 minutes of playing time.
The senior guard believes the team is not worn down, but just didn't come to play tonight.
"I just think we didn't play the way we normally play," Coburn said. "It showed out there. It really, really hurt us and the results show."