PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The 92-84 Rutgers victory over Florida A&M was as much a coming out party for Kadeem Jack as it was for new head coach Eddie Jordan.
Jordan made his return to the Rutgers bench with a standing ovation, but his junior team captain stole the show with the best game of his career.
With plenty of distractions during the offseason, it became clear that Jack found plenty of time to improve his post skills.
“If he has a high motor, he’s going to be everywhere,” Jordan said. “He plays above everyone else by far – above everyone. … He did more of that in the second half. He felt the jitters. He felt that he could give great effort.”
Jack finished with his second double-double and career highs in points (30), rebounds (12) and minutes (33).
Jack set Rutgers on its breakaway run with a monster fast break dunk, and used his superior post presence to put the game away.
“I thought I was going to be solid,” Jack said. “Just be really solid, come out here and try play my best. I didn’t think that I was going to do that.”
Rutgers had the talent edge over Florida A&M, but sloppiness prevented a breakaway until midway into the second half. The Rutgers defense took over.
Senior J.J. Moore and junior Myles Mack provided consistent defensive pressure that A&M could not handle. Mack committed six turnovers but made up with it via his six steals.
“When I turned it over or whatever, I just hustled back,” Mack said. “I knew that my man was going to switch hands and I just stole it.”
Jordan did not want the spotlight on him, despite the game being billed as “Eddie Jordan night.” That did not stop the crowd giving him multiple standing ovations, and chants of “Eddie” as he took the court before player introductions.
“It’s not really emotional, I just wanted to get the win,” Jordan said. “It would have been worse emotionally if I didn’t get the win. I’m paddling like heck underneath the water. I’m trying to get the win.”
Jordan’s career as Rutgers head coach got off to a solid start, but becomes tougher when he plays at UAB in three days.