By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: MASN, SNY, Big East Network. Home Record: Marquette 16-0, Rutgers 9-6. Away Record: Marquette 3-6, Rutgers 3-8. Neutral Record: Marquette 2-1, Rutgers 1-0. Conference Record: Marquette 12-4, Rutgers 4-12. Series Record: Marquette leads, 1-6.
GAME NOTES: Looking to pick up some momentum and keep pace near the top of the Big East, the Marquette Golden Eagles take to the road for a conference battle with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the RAC on Tuesday night.
With just two games left to play Marquette is in third place in the Big East standings with a record of 12-4, but trail league-leading Georgetown by just one game. The Golden Eagles have won four of their last five games, including important wins against No. 17 Syracuse and No. 24 Notre Dame last week. Marquette closes out the season on Saturday against St. John's at Madison Square Garden.
As for Rutgers things have not gone so successfully. The Scarlet Knights have been set down in four straight and 10 of their last 11 games to drop to 13-14 overall and just 4-12 in league action. Rutgers does have a record above .500 at the RAC (9-6), although it has had losses in four of its last five at home. Rutgers faces instate rival Seton Hall on Friday to finish the regular season.
These teams have only been conference foes since 2006. Rutgers won that initial meeting but Marquette has won six straight since, including an 82-65 victory in last season's battle.
Against the Fighting Irish, Marquette yet again proved how impossible it is to handle at home. The Golden Eagles used 19 points off the bench from Jamil Wilson and a 59.6 percent shooting effort as a team to move to 16-0 at the Bradley Center.
There are really no stars on the floor for Marquette. The closest the Golden Eagles come is Vander Blue (14.0 ppg) but the senior guard has really been struggling down the stretch. Blue has failed to score in double figures in the last three games while shooting less than 40 percent from the field in each contest. That has left the door open for players like Junior Cadougan (8.6 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Wilson (9.0 ppg) to make plays and keep the Golden Eagles competitive. Davante Gardner (11.9 ppg) has been important off the bench as well, although he has lacked consistency. After taking over by pouring in 26 points in the Golden Eagles' win over Syracuse last Monday, the 6-foot-8 forward had just five points against Notre Dame.
On Sunday afternoon Rutgers ran into the buzz-saw in Georgetown, falling 64-51. Wally Judge scored 11 points as the only player in double figures for the Scarlet Knights who shot 37 percent overall and hit just 6-of-15 from the free-throw line.
Star power is also something Rutgers lacks especially when Eli Carter (14.9 ppg) was lost for the season with a fractured right fibula in mid-February. Myles Mack (13.3 ppg) is now the only player on the roster scoring in double figures but has been less consistent as the primary scoring option. Mack had been shooting over 50 percent from the floor most of the season but has struggled of late with back-to-back games outside of double figures. Dane Miller (7.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Wally Judge (7.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are the only other players scoring seven points per game or more. As a team, Rutgers is scoring just 65.9 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting.
Even though Marquette hasn't been as successful on the road as at home, the Golden Eagles are too strong a squad to suffer a setback against a depleted Rutgers unit.