Benjamin Kukainis: Key Stretch Coming up for RU Men’s Basketball

Sports

Head Coach Mike Rice and the Rutgers Men’s Basketball program are in the midst of a four game slide, but the upcoming three game home stand will provide an excellent opportunity for the squad to get this season back on track.

The recent downturn began with a tough three point loss (69-66) in South Bend to a Notre Dame team that has been in and out of the national Top 25 all season.  Next, Rice and Co. dropped a home game (72-60) to a hot St. John’s team that shot 59% from the field in the second half.  A trip to the always difficult Stores, CT followed that loss.  Against UConn the Knights received a career-best 21 points from Jerome Seagears.  However, Seagears’ efforts were not enough to overcome RU’s 16 turnovers and 39.3% (22-56) shooting from the field and the team lost 66-54 to the Huskies.

Wednesday night’s 62-54 loss at #23 Cincinnati brought the current skid to four games. Despite a very hot start and a combined 37 points from the backcourt trio of Myles Mack, Seagears and Eli Carter the team could no secure a much needed road win. The reason — Rutgers hit just eight of its 26 second-half shots and committed 10 turnovers over the final 20 minutes.

After the game Head Coach Mike Rice had the following to say, “When they turned their intensity and defensive pressure up, we didn’t have a response.  We had a lot of turnovers that led to their transition points and our lack of making field goals. Those things were critical to the game.”

The RU men now stand at 12-8 overall and 3-6 in the Big East, but all is not lost Scarlet Knights fans.  First, it should be noted that the team will now have six days “off” to practice and watch film before their next game.  That extra time should enable Coach Rice and his staff to fix most of the ills that plagued the team during the current losing streak.

The Knights will return to action with a home game – the first of three straight at the RAC — on February 6th against #12 ranked Louisville.  An upset win over Louisville would be a great momentum builder for the Knights.  The contest vs. nationally ranked Louisville will be followed by visits from Georgetown (15-4; 5-3) and in-state rival Seton Hall (13-8; 2-6).

According to Rutgers basketball enthusiast Benjamin Kukainis this stretch of three straight home games is just what the Scarlet Knights need to get this season back on track.

Louisville has looked very beatable of late as they have dropped 3 of their last 4 games.  Georgetown is 4-3 in their last seven games and is 2-2 on the road in Big East play this season.  Meanwhile SHU is experiencing a skid of their own right now — losing 5 of their last 6 and four straight on the road.

In short, the Scarlet Knights have three very winnable home games coming up.  If Rice’s team can seize the opportunity ahead of them, this stretch of home games could be the springboard to a great February run for this young group.  Hopefully a successful run this month would lead to the Knights making some noise in March.

 

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