By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Rutgers (12-6, 3-4 Big East) was unable to overcome an almost nine minute scoring drought and a 17-0 run in that span by St. John’s (12-7, 4-3 Big East), losing 72-60 at the RAC. Here’s what to take away from the game:
1. Inconsistent Eli.
After a two game slump, Eli Carter appeared to get out of his rut with solid outings in back-to-back games. But that’s all it lasted. Carter had more turnovers (four) than points (0 points on 0-of-6 shooting) in the first half. The second half didn’t get much better. Carter finished with five points on 1-of-14 shooting and five turnovers and was benched for the last 4:30.
2. Out of the logjam.
But not in a good way. Heading into the game, Rutgers was tied for 6th in the Big East with five other teams at 3-3. With the loss, Rutgers is now out of the top half of the Big East and sits in sole possession of tenth place. Not to mention that they’re back below .500 for just the second time since conference play began, and missed an opportunity to go 4-3 in the Big East for the first time in school history.
3. Close contests end.
Mike Rice and Steve Lavin have faced off five times since each took over their respective programs three years ago. Each of the previous four games were within three points at the final buzzer, coming down to the last possession. A trend that came to an end tonight.
Rutgers still hasn’t beaten St. John’s twice in a season since 1978-1979.
“They wanted it more and that’s usually how you win Big East basketball games.”
On the 17-0 run: “I feel like they just got on a roll and we didn’t do anything to stop the bleeding.”
“We got to get more stops. Defense fuels us.”
On Eli Carter: “Everybody has this. It happens. It’s sports. Sammy Sosa didn’t hit a home run every time he stepped to the plate. It happens. He’s just got to prepare for the next game.”