In the first game of Mike Rice's suspension, Rutgers wins 88-79.
In David Cox's first game as head coach, the Scarlet Knights came out fired up. They opened the game 15-16 from the floor and 3-3 from the stripe. Myles Mack was, again, phenomenal scoring 23 points. He hasn't missed a free throw since the opening game against St. Peter's. Eli Carter backed him up with 20.
Cox employed some interesting motivational tools to try and keep the team together. First, he brought out the rope Mike Rice used as a metaphor for togetherness and laid it out on the bench. Also, during his pre-game speech, he donned a Rutgers uniform, jersey, shorts and sneakers to show the team he was one of them. It worked.
Rutgers played their best half of the season, deflecting balls, forcing turnovers, and running an unselfish offense. The ball never stuck in anyone's hands, and everyone got theirs.
The one bugaboo, the problem that continues to hurt the team, is turnovers. Rutgers turned it over 22 times, too often dribbling into double teams in the second half. UAB never got it closer than 7 however.
Rutgers is now 7-2, with a clear path toward 9-2 before the Big East season starts. This team plays well in spurts, and each of those spurts is getting longer. It's only a matter of time before they put it together.
Today the team used Mike Rice's suspension as motivation. Hopefully they keep flying high. This team has a big year in front of them, and needs to take advantage now.
After the game, Dane Miller made it "Us against Them". Coach Cox said the bad chemistry is only perceived.
This could be the turning point. But it's still only the OOC. It's still the "easy" opponents.
Howard is up next.