Lack of rebounding and foul trouble killed Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights fell to UAB tonight despite some great offensive play by Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack. But Rutgers couldn't find a player to box out and were out rebounded by a horrific number, 54-27. This was a game for the taking, but as the game wound down, Rutgers got skittish, panicked late and couldn't stay ahead. The Blazers were able to attack the Knights and get key players into foul trouble.
Because of the trouble, Jordan was forced to keep Malick Kone and Craig Brown for extended stretches. UAB was happy to let Brown and Kone try to beat them, and they were unable to. Meanwhile, UAB's rebounding was too much. Jordan may have to keep one more player back to crash the boards, because Mack, J.J. Moore and Jerome Seagears leaking out early is killing the big mean. Sure, if one of the big men is able to grab the ball it leads to an easy bucket, but too often, UAB was able to tap the ball around and come back with an offensive board.
The final two minutes weren't as close as the final score, as UAB held a six point lead for most of it.
The turning point of the game came when two of the veterans of the team took part in an uncharacteristically immature play. With Rutgers up 7, Myles Mack forced a turnover and lead out on a break. As a defender stepped up to slow Mack, he found Seagears in the lane for a wide open lay-up. Seagears blew the lay-up and UAB outletted for a run out of their own. The player crashed into Wally Judge, who got called for a block and shook up his knee.
During the injury timeout that followed, the refs went to the review booth and caught evidence of J.J. Moore throwing an elbow into the stomach of one of the Blazers. Moore was called for a flagrant one.
After that, foul trouble began to pile up for Rutgers, and they were unable to keep any flow to their offense. They also went cold from the line late, showing that they were likely gassed. Both Kerwin Okoro and Junior Etou sat out their second games of the season, which hurt their depth as well.
Rutgers needs to learn from this game, because there is talent on this team. But defensively, they are lacking and their rebounding is killing them.
Until Rutgers can get stops and secure the ball, they will not make the leap to becoming a good team. Lots of work to be done, but it's still only the second game of the season.