Last year, in the first game of Mike Rice's suspension, UAB visited the RAC. The Scarlet Knights--at one point--had a 25 point lead and managed to win 88-79. That Rutgers team was expected to be known for their defense. That UAB team ended up with 16 wins.
Now the Knights travel to Alabama after putting up 92 points, as they search for their identity.
Here are the keys:
1. Keep Runnin', Rutgers: Kadeem Jack, J.J. Moore and Myles Mack put up points Friday night. They need to keep that up. Whatever worked for them the other night, their reads, their runs outs, their decision making, needs to keep going. Eddie Jordan wants this team to run and find easy baskets. If that continues into Monday, they'll be in good shape.
2. Rebound the basketball: Particularly on the weak side. On Friday night, FAMU was able to get to too many rebounds, and each time Rutgers did come away with the ball it was after winning a battle. Rutgers needs to be in position and box out successfully. Too many second chances will kill the Knights on the road.
3. Fix or Abandon the Press: Rutgers is still gelling on defense, that is clear. But the press--once again--did not work well in the first half against FAMU. They adjusted in the second half and worked better on the defensive end when they were playing a half court man to man. UAB is a better team than both Caldwell and FAMU and they're home. If Rutgers is not sharp while pressing, they'll get burned.
4. Manage fouls: The refs are looking to call the cheap ones. It's part of the rules this year. Rutgers, on offense, needs to take advantage of this and drive to the basket. The hacks will be there, they're always there. Myles and Jerome Seagears are good free throw shooters. They'll need to make them tomorrow.
5. Deal with a Short Bench: Junior Etou is still suspended. Kerwin Okoro is still hurt. Much like Friday night, Jordan is going to have to be careful with his substitutions. He'll likely want to ride the starters as much as possible. However, fouls usually favor the home team. Rutger is going to have to be careful, otherwise key players could end up on the bench for long periods of time. Someone off the bench will have to pick up the slack.