By Matt Sugam
PRINCETON– Through the first two games, Rutgers’ guard play was inconsistent and it seemed like three-pointer after three-pointer caromed off the rim.
That all changed against Princeton where Myles Mack and Eli Carter went 3-of -5 and 4-of-6 respectively from beyond the arc. The pair each played their best — and most consistent — game of the young season, combining for 38 points in the 58-52 win at Jadwin Gym.
“Being a little more aggressive and [shots] falling,” head coach Mike Rice said of the scoring outburst by his guards. “We had nine open shots against St. Peter’s when nobody was around us. Guys were probably committed to their shots more.”
Which led to Mack and Carter hitting their shots from the onset.
“From the beginning my shot was falling,” Mack said. “So my confidence level was sky high.”
As was Carter’s. So by midway through the first half, both sophomores were in a zone that had them feeling every shot they took would find the bottom of the nylon.
For the opposition, it becomes a nightmare.
“It’s scary,” Mack said. “We’re both trying to figure out when we’re going to miss or how many we’re going to make in a row.”
Now, Rice is trying to figure out what to do with Carter. For the second straight game, he came off the bench. And for the second straight game, it didn’t affect Carter’s game.
“A starter or coming of the bench he’s going to score. It doesn’t really bother Eli either way,” Rice said. “We’ll see what we’re going to do with that, but certainly a shot in the arm, the fuel in the motor so to speak. When he comes in he certainly helps us.”
Whether his name is called by the PA announcer as a starter or by Rice a few minutes into the game to come off the bench, Carter’s approach doesn’t change.
“I just have the same mindset,” Carter said. “I try to do whatever my team needs.”
Which tonight was be a spark off the bench, scoring a game-high 22 points. The effort helped Rutgers win at Jadwin Gym. Something they’ve now done only 16 times in 60 games.
“We’re just trying to change things [at Rutgers],” Carter said. “Getting wins on the road. Last year we had trouble getting wins on the road, and to get a win here at Princeton – it’s a good win.”