PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Forget that Seton Hall has five straight losses and half of a team because of injuries. With six straight losses and the illusive post-season berth fading, Rutgers coach Mike Rice is treating every game with his team on high alert.
“After you lose six games in a row, you don’t have to worry about taking anybody lightly – Mickey Mouse or anybody else that comes in here and plays,” Rice said. “Seton Hall is a really good basketball team and we have to come out and follow the formula and share the game.”
Rutgers (12-10, 3-8) is not yet at the point of no return when it comes to the postseason, but losing to Seton Hall could be a breaking point.
The Scarlet Knights have seven games left in the regular season and should be favorites four of them. Rutgers is four-point favorites to Seton Hall and desperate for a turning point.
“We understand that, when we see the film, we’ve been beating ourselves,” said senior forward Austin Johnson. “We really believe we’ll finish with a successful few weeks and that starts with Seton Hall. Seton Hall’s a great team, but we match up well.”
With a top 25 strength of schedule, Rutgers needs a bare minimum of 17 wins to make the NIT this season. In 2012, four “big six” programs made the tournament with 17 or 18 total victories. At 20-12, Seton Hall was the lone Big East representative, checking in as a No. 1 seed.
With seven games left in the regular season, Rutgers needs at least five more wins to end its post-season drought.
“We want to win out,” Johnson said. “It’s obviously a tall order. We had the toughest schedule in the Big East with the ordering that we’ve received. We had a really tough opening schedule, so we have a lot of games coming up that we can win, so that’s really reassuring. We are a good team, we just have to stop beating ourselves and try to get to a postseason. NIT, NCAA, whatever it is, we want to win out and do something that hasn’t been done here in a while.”
Inside the Numbers
3 -- Rutgers, a four-point favorite over the Pirates, has been favored to win just three Big East games this season.
5 -- Seton Hall has five straight wins at the RAC. The visiting team has won the last five games in the rivalry series.
11 -- Rutgers and Seton Hall have lost a combined 11 consecutive games going into tonight’s tip.
21 -- After scoring 21 points and 10 rebounds against Seton Hall at the Prudential Center last year, Dane Miller earned MVP honors. Miller is now six points away from 1,000. Miller has 80 career points against the Pirates.
26 -- Starting for the first time in a month, Austin Johnson logged a season-high 26 minutes and scored eight points against Georgetown.
47.2 -- Jerome Seagears leads the Big East with a 47.2 percent clip from long range in conference play. Fellow sophomore Myles Mack continues to lead the Big East in free throw shooting at 94 percent.
2010 -- A loss to Seton Hall puts Rutgers on its longest losing streak since Fred Hill Jr. lost eight straight in 2010, his final season.