Rutgers shook off its Memphis drubbing, and responded with its best road performance of the season in a 79-69 victory over South Florida.
Junior Kadeem Jack built momentum at the start of the road trip. He kept rolling against USF with a monster performance to lead Rutgers to a win. Jack finished with a career-high 31 points with six rebounds. He was a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line, which closed out the game.
“I just stayed in the gym and kept working,” Jack said on WCTC’s post-game show. I felt like I had a rough patch in the middle of the season where I was really inconsistent. .. I just kind of put my head down, went in the gym and kept working.
“… It’s really special because we’ve been going on the road and we haven’t gotten a road win.”
Rutgers (10-14, 4-7) stays in contention for a first-round bye in the American with a sixth-place seed. The win over USF marks the first away from Piscataway since the 2013 Big East tournament.
The Scarlet Knights showed an ability to overcome adversity on the road for the first time this season. Rutgers blew a 14-point lead by the end of the first half, and trailed by as many as six points in the second half.
Led by Jack, Rutgers slowly chipped away, and built an insurmountable lead.
“We were just in attack mode and Kadeem was the spearhead,” said coach Eddie Jordan.
Senior Wally Judge played well in his second game back from injury. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Myles Mack added 15 points and five assists.
Rutgers returns to action Thursday to face SMU, which is fresh off an upset of No. 7 Cincinnati. The matchup features former NBA coaching rivals Jordan and Larry Brown.
“It’s a journey,” Jordan said. “We know where want to go. We know it’s achievable. To be lumped in with the powers of the conference feels pretty good to get there.”