Johnson's Last Stand

Austin Johnson

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Senior Austin Johnson has one more chance to beat Seton Hall at home and that comes tonight in the latest installment of the series. Johnson has never experienced a home win against his in-state rival and discussed the importance of stopping multiple streaks tonight.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers senior Austin Johnson did not need any reminders of his home struggles against Seton Hall. But Mike Rice gave him some anyway.

Starting practices with shouts of "five in a row" or "they own this place," the five consecutive home losses to arch-rival Seton Hall has been officially hammered into the Scarlet Knights' heads.

Rutgers has not won against Seton Hall at the Louis Brown Athletic Center since 2008 and Johnson has never won at home.

"That's been said countless times, especially in practice [yesterday]," Johnson said. "I wasn't even aware of it at first, but now that I think about it, it's crazy that I've never won in this building against those guys. They've always come here and handled business."

Rutgers has arguably had the edge over Seton Hall, eliminating the Pirates from the 2011 Big East tournament. But The Pirates dominated the RAC dating back to the Fred Hill Jr. era.

"The records get completely thrown out the window," Johnson said. "The games are really high intensity and physical. Some altercation usually happens. Seeing that in the last five years they've come here [they won]. I've never won against them in [the RAC]. It's big. We want to come out and execute."

The insanity went to another level in last year's 59-54 loss to the Pirates, compliments of Herb Pope and Jim Burr. Pope, a Seton Hall forward, and Burr, a Big East official, were the maestros for one of the biggest renditions of the "boo birds" in recent years.

Pope delivered a Junk Yard Dog-esque head butt to Rutgers guard Elijah Carter after a basket. Pope, however, was not ejected because of what Burr described as not "a great head butt, it was just a little tap."

"A lot of [the fireworks] I can contributed to Herb Pope," Johnson said. "Herb Pope was great at that stuff. I don't know. I feel like once we meet with one another, it just because such a high intense, over aggressive type of game that people just want to do anything to get a win. … Ever since I've been here, there's always been one or two plays that really change the momentum of the game."

Entering tonight's highly anticipated slobberknocker, Rutgers and Seton Hall bring a combined 11 consecutive losses. Both are on the edge of post-season eliminate and both are desperate for a victory.

"It's definitely desperation as of now, losing the last seven out of eight," Johnson said of the Rutgers losing streak. "We have to get a win and get back rolling. This will be a great momentum-builder to do that.

"They're in desperate times just like us, I feel, and whoever executes the best [wins]. We've been trying to emphasize not beating ourselves. … Stop with the stupid turnovers and stuff that we can control."

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