RU collects sixth straight loss
Mike Rice said associate head coach David Cox knew No. 20 Georgetown’s play call Saturday following a 30-second timeout with 1:15 remaining. The Hoyas could likely say the same about the Rutgers men’s basketball team during the final 4:44, when the Scarlet Knights shot 1-for-10 and scored three points.
The end result, a 69-63 loss, served as another unforgiving reminder from the Big East’s elite.
“It’s part of the problem of the Big East,” said sophomore point guard Jerome Seagears. “You just have to find a way to win. At the end, they found a way to end with [forward Otto] Porter cutting and running their offense and making a tough, tough shot.”
Porter has made a habit of doing so.
The sophomore scored 10 straight points in a five-minute span late in the second half for the Hoyas (17-4, 7-3). He hit two free throws with nine seconds remaining last year to cement a 52-50 Rutgers loss in Washington, D.C.
“Otto Porter is Otto Porter,” said Georgetown head coach John Thompson III.
For 35 minutes, the Knights (12-10, 3-8) matched Porter’s play.
Steady ball movement against Georgetown’s 2-3 zone led to a 8-for-18 mark from 3-point territory. Penetration to the mid-post led to collapses, which sophomore guard Eli Carter exploited.
And 17 offensive rebounds led to favorable looks.
“I think we moved it very well and executed pretty good,” Seagears said.
But the dynamic shifted with Georgetown’s defense.
Thompson returned to a man-to-man set following the final TV timeout, and the Knights never adapted. Open 3-point looks against a zone turned into contested shots. Well-timed drives met collapsing Hoya defenders.
And Carter’s early shooting display — he went 7-for-12 from the field at one point — followed with a 1-for-6 finish.
“Our movement, we just stood around and wanted Eli to try to do something or [sophomore point guard] Myles [Mack] to do something,” said Rice, head coach. “We’re best when we’re getting behind the defense and moving the ball in four or five passes.”
Rice’s motion offense thrived for two-thirds of the game off of rotation and inside-outside looks. But Rutgers never adapted with Georgetown’s changes, and the Knights sat inside the Louis Brown Athletic Center’s locker rooms facing a familiar feeling.
“When you lose … it takes the joy away from your everyday experience,” Rice said. “You mope to class. You mope on the training table. You’re fighting through practice because of the competition.”
Within the team’s film study room, the it was uncertain how to attack Georgetown’s defensive looks. Seagears preferred dribble penetration. Carter favored junior guard Mike Poole in the middle of Georgetown’s 2-3 zone.
Rice, meanwhile, preferred to keep it simple.
“One of the biggest concepts you don’t do is stand against the zone,” he said. “We did that maybe once or twice during the last five minutes.”
Carter admits it has been a recurring issue for the Knights, although he said the team’s motion offense has improved. None were more likely to see a zone look than Carter, whose recent offensive struggles have been well documented.
Carter and Mack combined for seven of Rutgers’ eight 3-pointers.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a coincidence,” Carter said of Rutgers’ success against the zone.
But as minutes took on more meaning, nothing was less coincidental than Porter’s offensive brilliance. Leading 62-61, with less than two minutes left, Porter took on two defenders, sized up Rutgers’ look and sank a turnaround jumper.
He added a free throw for extra measure, laying Cox’s best laid plan to waste.
“We don’t have that guy,” Rice said.
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Tyler Barto on Twitter @TBartoTargum.