Rutgers dropped an 80-67 decision at Ole Miss in a game that saw Mississippi overtake the Scarlet Knights from the outset in one of the most physical games of the season so far. Although the Knights lost, coach Mike Rice appreciated the effort from his team against a physical Rebels squad, but wants to see the Knights employ a verve, going forward, that will allow RU to battle consistently in the Big East cage wars.
Rutgers coach Mike Rice is looking for his team to get a little more of an edge after the loss to Ole Miss on Saturday.(Courtesy Rutgers Athletics Communications)
“It’s BIG EAST-SEC basketball. It was an early conference game, basically. Like Andy (Kennedy), I don’t mind a little passion, a little intensity,” said Rice, “I think we need more of it to be honest with you, a little more togetherness. That’s part of the game.”
Rutgers was able to battle Ole Miss to a draw on the boards at 30-30, but the differing factor was the offensive glass where the Rebels scored 15 points off 16 rebounds.
“It’s part of being in the Big East or SEC, where you are going to have that type of intensity or that physicality,” noted Rice, “They certainly bring physicality. They’re always hitting. When you have those veteran guys who understand that hitting first is always better than reacting, you’ve got something.”
The stage was set early in the game when Rutgers’ Jerome Seagears and Jarvis Summners of Ole Miss tangled just 5:59 into the game. The scrap set the tone for what would be a tough, physical outing as each was assessed a technical foul.
“We blinked; you don’t blink against this team and we certainly did,” Guys stepped up for them and made plays. I like 75 percent of what we did but the other 25 percent showed some of the weakness of this team, which is a touch soft.”
Rice could have been alluding to that offensive rebound descrepancy or possibly the fact that Rutgers settled for too many jump shots instead of attacking the more physical Rebels. Rutgers hoisted 16 three-pointers while allowing 18 points off 14 turnovers. The combination plus the offensive glass proved that the Knights have to get tougher across the boards before embarking on the fury of the Big East in less than a month.
“We are going to have to remedy that in the next couple of weeks to compete against some of the teams we face throughout the year,” Rice summerized.
Of concern to Rice was the fact that Eli Carter, one of his best shooters and scorers was only 1-of-12 from the floor. Rice coupled that with the fact that Rutgers took 16 three-pointers from the floor as Rice noted that the Scarlet Knights were settling instead of attacking.
“He has to understand that when the ball doesn’t go in, it’s the same,” Rice said of Carter’s off night which played a key role in the outcome, “You can’t start hunting, you can’t starting going one on five. You have to follow the formula and he certainly didn’t do that.”
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