PISCATAWAY, N.J. —The Rutgers basketball team pushed Syracuse to the edge today at the sold-out Louis Brown Athletic Center, but the No. 2 team in the country proved too much for the inexperienced Scarlet Knights.
Neck-and-neck for 38 minutes, Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine drilled a three-point dagger that gave the second-ranked Orange a seven-point lead and a, 74-64, victory at the RAC.
In a valiant effort by massive underdog Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights dropped their fifth straight game and fall to 4-10 in the Big East and 12-15 overall.
“I thought as far as the fight and the compete, it was probably more of the consistent games we’ve had in the last month,” said head coach mike Rice. “We just didn’t finish plays. ... This team still has young bodies and young minds. In the Big East you have to seek that contact.”
Sophomore Gilvydas Biruta put up his best performance of the season, scoring a career-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Biruta added seven rebounds, with the Scarlet Knights out-rebounding the Orange 34-29.
1:00 “That’s what I thought I’d have every game to be honest with you,” Rice said. “
According to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, the game-plan was to gamble inside to shut down the skilled freshman guards of Rutgers. The gamble paid off on the outside, but Biruta kept Rutgers in the game with a strong inside presence.
On the outside, freshman guard Elijah Carter had an off-night, shooting 3-for-13 and 1-of-8 from three. Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears did not fare much better, combining for 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
“I watched them a lot,” Boeheim said of the freshman guards. “Florida, they were making shots just unbelievable. I didn’t want to let them get in rhythm shooting the ball because if they get it going, they can beat anybody. ... We didn’t do a good job on Biruta inside, that was disappointing.”
Rutgers sold out the RAC for the first time this season. Though there was a strong Syracuse influence, the Scarlet Knights fed off the support from the fans and gave the Orange trouble.
“This is a tough place,” Boeheim said. “I don’t care who you are. I think Florida was pretty good, Connecticut was pretty good when they came in here. Did Notre Dame lose in here? ... They’re pretty good too.”