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GameThread & Preview: Conference Play Begins

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Rutgers welcomes Temple to the RAC. It's 2014, and the Scarlet Knights have a clean slate.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The New Year is here and the Scarlet Knights are looking to start over as conference play begins. Temple (5-5) comes to the RAC as the AAC season kicks off.

Here are the keys:

-How Many Healthy Bodies? Minor injuries have been a storyline this year, and tonight is no different. Jerry Carino reports Jerome Seagears and Malick Kone both twisted ankles in practice this week. If neither are available, the Scarlet Knights will be missing minutes, putting more pressure on J. J. Moore, D'Von Campbell and Myles Mack.

-Will Kadeem Jack Step Up? Eddie Jordan said that only Mack, Junior Etou and Wally Judge are guaranteed starters for this game. Jack was a disappointment against Army, and hasn't always shown up each game. Rutgers needs Jack to play at a high level every game--and not just on the offensive end. Jordan is clearly challenging Jack (see the Carino article). Will he respond?

-Push the Tempo: Temple can score, but--unlike their past-it seems they don't play much defense. They're averaging just about 80 points per game and give up 75. This should be a barnburner affair. Rutgers is going to need to score as much and as quickly as possible. First one to 81 wins?

-Get the Key Stop: There will likely come a point where Rutgers is close, up two-down two, and will need a stop late in the game. They need to get it. They need to secure a long rebound or force a turnover, or just play straight up good defense. They haven't been able to do that this year, but can they now?

Personal Note: I'm not shaving until Rutgers wins a conference game. The game is tonight, 8 pm at the RAC.