By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – For the first 20 minutes, USF controlled the pace and the lane. They’d slowed things down and outscored Rutgers in 22-10 in the paint.
So the halftime adjustment was simple. Speed it up.
Rutgers did, pushing the pace and scoring 24 points in the paint to USF’s eight.
A big reason for the drastic change was Rutgers point guard Jerome Seagears. He found the holes in the lane and helped pushed the pace in transition in Rutgers’ (12-4, 3-2 Big East) 70-67 win over USF (9-7, 0-4 Big East) at the RAC.
“It’s pretty hard when you’re playing a team like South Florida,” Seagears said of speeding up the game. “They take their time. Anthony Collins – he’s great point guard and he’s always under control and other than that it was just we got to do what we got to do.”
Which was pushing the tempo. And in doing so, Seagears was able to find his guys in the paint.
“Just attacking the gaps under control and using the ball screens,” Seagars said. “Just trying to read the defense and read what they give me.”
Tonight, it was seven assists and no turnovers.
“I just wanted to make easy shots for my teammates,” Seagears said. “Just help the team out by getting easy assists and easy points.”
With forward Wally Judge being the biggest benefactor.
Judge scored 14 points – 10 of which came in the second half – having the best game he’s had at Rutgers in as far as his moves in the low post, going 7-of-8 from the field.
“Jerome Seagears,” head coach Mike Rice said when asked how Judge was able to be so effective in the paint. “And again, I thought Wally did finish strong and through contact, but the execution and now the penetration that we had [from Seagears] allowed Wally to get some easy looks and he finished one on one instead of one on two or three like he usually does. ”
And Judge hopes Seagears setting up easy baskets for him becomes the new norm.
“It was great because it makes us harder to guard,” Judge said. “And that’s his game – getting in the lane and making plays and we need him to do that the rest of the season.”