By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – It didn’t take Eli Carter long to get over his poor performance against St. John’s.
In a game where Rutgers’ leading scorer was stymied, he put it behind not long after he slipped out of his uniform and walked out of the RAC.
“30 minutes after the game I was over it,” Carter said after today’s practice.
Declining to talk to the media after his frustrating 1-of-14, five point and five turnover performance, Carter chalked it up simply as an off night.
“It happens,” Carter said. “I consider myself a scorer. Scorers are going to have bad nights. It happens to the best of us.”
But for Carter, it’s happened more frequently as of late.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has been held to single digits three of the past five games. In those three games, he was just 5-of-29 from the field.
“Often times in this league it’s difficult being a leading scorer because the game plan is about stopping you and making it difficult,” head coach Mike Rice said. “So the advantage you had in the non-conference are not there as much.”
In turn, Carter has to affect the game in different ways. Whether that has to be on the defensive end or getting his teammates involved on the offensive end.
“I expect every team to [game plan for me],” Carter said. “Like I said before, I just have to trust my teammates and take good shots and I’ll be fine.”
And the Paterson, NJ native will be. As long as he hits those open shots.
Despite his knack for scoring, Carter’s struggled to do that as of late, which was no more evident than against St. John’s. Of his 13 misses, seven were layups.
“He’s missing layups and things that he usually makes and you’re going to find that every once in a while,” Rice said. “You have to work through it.”
One way to help Carter do that is to have him come off the bench. Something he’s done four times this season. And in those games, 20.8 points, five points above his season average.
While three of those games were against non-confernce opponents, one was against Pittsburgh, where he scored 23 points, which happens to be his biggest scoring outburst off the bench.
Rice said he’s yet to make a decision on whether or not he’ll bring Carter off the bench when Rutgers (12-6, 3-4 Big East) plays at UConn (12-5, 2-3 Big East) on Saturday, but Carter won’t be phased by it if he is.
“If that happens then it is what it is,” Carter said. “No matter what happens I’m going to play as hard as I can. Whether I come off the bench or start, so it doesn’t really matter.”