And so this is what you get with the 2011-2012 Rutgers basketball team (12-11, 4-6 BIG EAST). An immaturity to want to win the big game against the best opponents, only to follow it up with one-on-one basketball against the worst. So, of course, on the road against 1-8 (in the Big East) Providence--in the Dunkin Donuts Center, Rutgers' version of a torture chamber--the Scarlet Knights failed to show up for the first half and found themselves down 14 at halftime.
And they weren't able to completely get back up. Once again they learned a harsh lesson. One they've been taught time and time again. No matter who you play in the Big East, you have to bring your A game. Rutgers didn't. In fact, they didn't even show up for most of the first half.
More after the jump...In the postgame radio interview, Mike Rice said the team, again, didn't listen. Rice wanted them to grind the game out and wear the Providence Friars down running them through screen after screen for 25-30 seconds. Hopefully, that would lead to some easy baskets and some back breakers. Instead, in the first half, Rutgers took quick shot after quick shot and turned the ball over 8 times. Then they decided not to get back on defense. Providence got a ton of run outs and opened up a double digit lead.
If not for a Jerome Seagears finger roll, it would have been a 16 point deficit at half.
Vincent Council was a beast all night, doling out 14 assists--most of which went to Bilal Dixon. The big man constantly got to the middle of the key wide open and flushed it. If he didn't dunk the ball, he found himself at the free throw line and made Rutgers pay. Even in the second half, when the Scarlet Knights decided to play.
The defense finally bore down in the second half and Myles Mack (16 points) and Givydas Biruta (13 points, 11 rebounds) played two of their best games of the season. Twice Rutgers closed the gap to 4, but--much like the Miami game earlier this season--weren't able to get any closer. Mike Poole was solid when he didn't turn the ball over. Eli Carter never was able to get it going and still managed to drop in 9 points. Dane Miller hustled, but still passed too much.
The same old formula for an RU loss.
The nail in the coffin came with just over a minute left as Bryce Cotton hit consecutive 3 pointers to push the lead back to ten.
This was just an overall disappointing effort. Realizing that this team doesn't want to listen to Mike Rice after a big win is frustrating, but also something that comes with a young team (yes, I know you don't want to hear it). Until this team wakes up and starts playing well in consecutive games, it won't turn the corner.
The schedule doesn't get much easier, which, ironically enough, may be a benefit for the Knights. On Saturday, they continue their road trip, heading to the Yum! Center to take on a wounded Louisville team. This is the kind of game that could wake up the freshman. After that, Seton Hall comes to the RAC.
But for tonight, Rutgers leaves Rhode Island after only showing up at halftime.