Similar script nearly fails RU?in win
The Rutgers men’s basketball team’s 68-65 win last night against George Washington was all too typical.
The Scarlet Knights (6-2) built up a 15-point lead and then saw it disappear.
They turned the ball over nine times in the second half and lost the rebounding battle, 45-29.
But as they have done in several of their wins this season, they found a way to win.
And in an upbeat postgame locker room, the sentiment was the same for each player.
“We definitely would have lost this game last year,” said senior wing Dane Miller. “[George Washington] would have went on a run, we would have turned the ball over, allowing them to score.”
For much of the second half, the Colonials (4-6) were poised to take control of the game. Once that happened, Rutgers needed to establish a post presence, but there was an issue.
Junior forward Wally Judge picked up two quick fouls in the first half, forcing him to the bench. He then began the second half but committed his third foul 30 seconds into the period.
Miller helped pick up the slack inside.
He ended the game in double figures again, scoring 10 points to go with four rebounds and four blocks.
Judge scored only two points and picked up one rebound in 16 minutes of play.
Luckily for the Knights, sophomore forward Kadeem Jack stepped up with a career-high 12 points and six rebounds.
“One thing I make sure to do is just be ready,” Jack said. “You’re going to get called on and … you should be able to be ready for that big moment.”
With limited support in the paint and a conservative Judge playing sparingly in the second half, Jack’s production came at the right time.
Colonials forward Isaiah Armwood, a Villanova transfer, climbed the scoring column in the second half, finishing with 18 points — 14 in the final period.
As he began to find his way to the basket, familiar holes in the Knights defense began to open.
“He’s so much more confident and active than he was at Villanova,” said head coach Mike Rice. “It wasn’t a great night for our bigs tonight.”
As those holes opened, Rutgers began to settle for jump shots rather than work the ball inside.
This time, those shots did not fall.
After posting a 43.2 field goal percentage in the first half, the Knights failed to catch fire shooting the ball.
Sophomore point guard Myles Mack finished the game as the only Knight to shoot better than 50 percent with 13 points.
“They were wide-open shots,” Rice said of the team’s second-half looks. “If you’re a coach and you want to give your player confidence, you’re not going to tell somebody, ‘no.’”
Rutgers forced 23 turnovers but turned them into only 17 points.
While Rice is not thrilled with the number, he said he would rather work on those types of things in practice after a win instead of a loss.
The positive mood in the postgame locker room gave the impression the team feels the same way.
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Joey Gregory on Twitter @JGregoryTargum.