By Matt Sugam
Rutgers (9-3, 0-1 Big East) opened up Big East play at the Carrier Dome against No. 7 Syracuse (12-1, 1-0 Big East). Here’s what to take away from the 78-53 loss:
1. Mike Rice is more reserved.
After returning from his three game suspension for a bad behavior and language, Rice vowed he would change. And he looked like he has begun to on the sidelines tonight. The fiery coach still had his edge, but his sideline antics weren’t nearly as evident as they were before the suspension. It was as calm as he’s ever been throughout a game in his tenure on the banks, even when Syracuse went on a 21-0 run in the final 6:40 of the first half.
2. Myles Mack struggling.
Heading into the Rider game Mack was on a tear, averaging 15.9 points per game. He scored just one point against Rider and no points tonight. The reason is simple. Mack had a head cold during the Rider game, and based on his play at Syracuse, the sophomore guard is still under the weather.
3. Losing streak continues.
Rutgers has won just once at Syracuse and that was back in 1975, the year before Jim Boeheim took over as head coach and five years before the Carrier Dome opened. The 37 year streak will last a lot longer with Syracuse leaving the Big East after this year and Rutgers likely following suit the next.
With Boeheim getting his 903rd victory to move past Bob Knight for second place all-time, Rutgers will forever be on the wrong side of history.
Head coach Mike Rice:
“They pushed out on Myles [Mack] and didn’t give him early good looks. Myles’ last game, he had a bad cold that he’s still fighting off. But he’s got to take care of the ball more. When you’re not scoring you still have to be able to defend, you still have to make the small plays and right now he’s not doing that. We have to get him back to where he was playing and I have confidence he will.”
On first game back from suspension: “I loved the last four days of preparation. This is a tough one to swallow, though. I would have loved us to put up a better showing. These things happen in the Big East.”
“This team has its flaws, has its warts, but it also has some pieces. But if this team lacks anything, it’s toughness and a response.”
Senior forward Austin Johnson:
On 21-0 run: “We got a little sad and you can’t do that on the road against team of this magnitude.”
“We just have to remain confident and stick to our blueprint. Come out here and do what we’re capable of. If we do that, we can compete with anybody. But tonight, was definitely a clunker.”
“Coming into the game, we knew that if we contained them transition-wise and got back, we’d be able to hold them off and I feel like that’s what it was. We couldn’t stop them on anything in transition. Brandon Triche and Mike Carter-Williams basically did whatever they wanted in transition.”