Yale (1-1) at Rutgers (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 14, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Yale 0-0, Rutgers 1-0. Away Record: Yale 0-1, Rutgers 0-1. Neutral Record: Yale 1-0, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record: Yale 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Series Record: Yale leads, 6-1.
GAMES NOTES: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will return home on Thursday night for a non-league affair against the Yale Bulldogs as the two teams match up at the RAC.
For Yale this is its first game outside of the Nutmeg State as its first two contests were against Central Connecticut State and Connecticut. The Bulldogs were able to top the Blue Devils, 93-77, in the opener but they had less success against the nationally-ranked Huskies. In that matchup the Bulldogs managed to connect on just 31.7 percent of their shots from the field, while being outscored 33-18 from beyond the arc in an 80-62 setback. Yale will play its only home game in the month of November next Tuesday when it hosts Sacred Heart at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Thus far Eddie Jordan's time as head coach for Rutgers has been a mixed bag. The Scarlet Knights have split their first two games under their new leader with a win over Florida A&M (92-84), but more recently, a 79-76 loss on the road to UAB. Jordan, a former Rutgers guard that helped the team to its only Final Four appearance, was brought in after former head coach Mike Rice was fired amid a scandal involving video that showed him physically and verbally abusing players. Jordan still has some work to do in getting his squad to finish games as Rutgers let a 37-31 halftime lead slip away in the loss to the Blazers. Thursday's game begins a six-game homestand for the Scarlet Knights, who take part in the NIT Season Tip-Off after this game.
Yale owns the advantage in the all-time series with six wins in seven meetings. The most recent outing occurred during the 2001-02 season when the Bulldogs grabbed a 65-57 win. Rutgers' only win was a 33-31 triumph in 1918.
Justin Sears has gotten off to a fantastic start on the year, even if his Bulldogs have not been able to follow suit. Sears is averaging 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, while shooting at a 50-percent clip from the field. Sears is also the only player on the team to be averaging more than 30 minutes on the court. Sears posted 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to UConn for his second double-double of the season and just the third of his career. Javier Duren (15.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) has served as the offensive counterpart in the backcourt, though his shot has been much less consistent. Duren has netted just 37.5 percent of his shots in the first two games, though he did have 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting against UConn. Armani Cotton (8.5 ppg) was held scoreless against the Huskies but is still a player the Bulldogs will look to for help offensively.
In the loss to UAB, Rutgers allowed the Blazers to shoot 50 percent from the field in the second half after having held them to 34.4 percent in the first frame. More consistent defensive efforts would go a long way for the Scarlet Knights, as would better work on the boards, as they had a 54-27 deficit in rebounds in the loss. After scoring 30 points in the season opener, Kadeem Jack managed just 11 points against UAB, although he was still efficient (5- of-8) with his shooting. The 6-foot-9 forward also saw a drop in his rebounding production as he had just three boards against UAB, following a 12- rebound effort. Myles Mack (15.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.0 spg) is the team's leading returning scorer and he has been productive so far, but not as efficient as last season. Mack has connected on just 34.6 percent of his shots from the field, including a 3-of-13 showing against UAB. J.J. Moore (14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has scored in double figures in each game this year as well.
Being home should help Rutgers play a more consistent brand of basketball than it did against UAB. Jack and the rest of the Scarlet Knights need to crash the boards better. Expect a bounce back performance for both Jack and the team overall.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 81, Yale 75
11/14 10:36:16 ET