By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Trailing by two to start the second half, Wally Judge slammed home Kadeem Jack’s missed layup. The 5,862 fans inside the RAC came alive. Momentum was swinging Rutgers’ way.
At least it appeared it would.
Then No. 11 Louisville ripped off a 20-3 over the next 6:24.
“If you asked me I thought we were going to go on the run they went on,” guard Jerome Seagears said of Judge’s dunk. “Things just don’t always go as planned.”
No, they don’t. And they didn’t tonight as Rutgersfell to Lousiville 68-48 at the RAC.
“I can’t honestly put my finger on it,” Judge said. “Like I said before, we have to play a complete 40 minutes. Whether we have the momentum or we in a drought, we have to play a complete 40 minutes and everyone has to be keyed in mentally.”
And just like that, a tie game became a daunting deficit.
“You can’t blink against this team,” head coach Mike Rice said. “If you’re inconsistent, which Rutgers is, which my team is, that’s a bad sign because they’re going to take advantage of you.”
Which Louisville did.
Using the press to cause turnovers and dominating the paint, Rutgers didn’t stand a chance by the 13 minute mark of the second half.
“We turned the ball over and they gout out in transition,” guard Myles Mack said. “And that’s what they usually do so they’re great in transition and they got out and started out in transition and we couldn’t do anything about it.”
No, they couldn’t. And things began to spiral out of the Scarlet Knights control.
“Sometimes one thing leads to another thing and it’s just a snowball affect,” Seagears said.
While Seagears was referring to Louisville’s (19-4, 7-3 Big East) run, the same could be said about Rutgers’ (12-9, 3-7 Big East) last three weeks.
After a 3-2 start in conference play, they’ve lost five straight Big East games.
“I told them in the locker room that no one is getting us out of this funk and this feeling except us,” said Rice. “I credit the Rutgers student section for coming out strong for us, and I appreciate it, but no one’s getting us out of this funk except for the 14 players and this staff.”
“Win a game,” Rice said. “It’s difficult in this league because this is supposed to be fun; this is supposed to be the best part of their lives.
“When you’re not playing when, when you’re not winning games, that’s when some of the leadership, some of the toughness has to show. That’s where you have to be strong and be together and at times we weren’t tonight.”