David Cox took a page out of his boss's playbook, stripped his jacket off, looked over the court, and called out a play. The Scarlet Knights were down ten points with just about 2 minutes to go in the first half. His boss, Coach Mike Rice, had been thrown out of the game for arguing a non-call foul on Eli Carter and garnering a double technical.
After a season of his players not getting calls Rice had seen enough. He went to bat for his team. And the team responded, cutting the ten point lead to five at halftime.
Unfortunately it wasn't enough.
More after the jump...Eli Carter broke out of his scoring slump and had a heck of a game, dropping in 24 points. Myles Mack followed him up with 9, but basically, Rutgers was outmanned and outmuscled.
For long stretches of the game, Rutgers couldn't grab a rebound. Gilvydas Biruta, Austin Johnson, and Derrick Randall were pushed around under the basket all game long and couldn't secure a rebound. Not to mention, RU turned the ball over 14 times, leading to plenty of runouts and fastbreak points for the Louisville Cardinals.
Meanwhile, Rutgers had no answer for Chane Benehan--who went 11-12 from the field and dropped in 23 points. According to Jerry Carino, he also trash talked the Scarlet Knights before the game, calling them too small and telling them they wouldn't be able to pull down a rebound. As much as it sucks to hear as a fan, he backed it up.
But again, Rutgers wasn't able to pull a key game out on the road, despite playing decently. This one doesn't hurt as much as the Providence loss and the DePaul loss, but it would have been a fun one to stick around for.
After the game, Mike Rice tweeted an apology for his behavior. While the cameras didn't focus on him the entire time he was blowing up (probably trying to avoid an FCC fine for language), he reportedly made a choking gesture at one of the referees. Rice chalked that up to clearing his throat.
Now the Scarlet Knights have to move on for what is always one of the biggest games of the season. Also tossed out of the game, coach Kevin Willard and the Seton Hall Pirates limp toward the RAC, struggling just as much--if not more so than Rutgers. Both sit at 4-7 in the Big East, but the Pirates were at one point 4-1. They can't put the ball in the basket.
The game is at 9 pm on Wednesday. A black-out day. One of the teams is going to use this game to get right. Rutgers has a week off afterward, and has no reason to hold back. Seton Hall needs this game if it wants to keep their dwindling NCAA hopes alive.
Should be a bloodbath.
So might as well shrug this game off, watch the Super Bowl, and then get ready for a huge rivalry game.