Rutgers (10-17) at UCF (10-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 26, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFE Arena (9,993) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Rutgers 9-9, UCF 8-7. Away Record: Rutgers 1-8, UCF 1-8. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: Rutgers 4-10, UCF 2-11. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference standings square off on Wednesday night, as the UCF Knights play host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers has been idle since last Thursday, when it nearly upset Memphis before falling in a 64-59 final. The loss was the third straight and eighth in the last 10 games for the Scarlet Knights, who are just 10-17 overall and 4-10 in league play. They will host South Florida in their next contest.
UCF has been even worse in its transition from Conference USA to the newly minted AAC. The Knights are just 2-12 against the rest of the conference, with losses in 11 of their last 12 games following an 88-84 setback against Houston last Saturday. Up next is a major test against No. 23 SMU.
One of the few teams Rutgers has been able to defeat in conference this season is UCF, which the Scarlet Knights took down in an 85-75 final at home on Jan. 15 in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
Kadeem Jack powered Rutgers with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but in the end the Scarlet Knights did not have enough in the tank to get past Memphis. Rutgers connected on only 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts, while being more than doubled up at the free-throw line (16-7).
Interestingly enough, Rutgers is actually the fourth-best scoring team in the AAC (73.2 ppg), despite only connecting on 43.3 percent of its shots from the floor. However, the Scarlet Knights have not been as committed on defense, allowing 76.9 ppg. Myles Mack (15.4 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Jack (14.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) are the leaders of the group. Mack has been an inconsistent shooter this season (.400), which was clearly evident against Memphis as he netted just 4- of-17 tries from the floor to total 10 points. J.J. Moore (10.9 ppg) adds some scoring depth, while Jerome Seagears (8.4 ppg) is the team's top threat from 3-point distance.
If there was a positive to be taken from their loss to Houston, it was that the Knights put forth their best offensive effort in conference play this season. However, it wasn't enough as UCF could not overcome scoring deficits from 3-point range (30-24) and at the free-throw line (22-14).
Overall, UCF is netting a modest 71.9 ppg on 43.8 percent shooting. That doesn't tell the story of how poorly the Knights have performed against the rest of the league thought, as they are netting a paltry 65.4 ppg in AAC action, while shooting just 40.4 percent from the floor. One thing that has remained consistent for the team is its effort on the glass, as it leads the league in rebounding (38.6 rpg). Isaiah Sykes (16.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.7 apg) is a versatile guard who can score from just about anywhere on the floor, and uses his size to make an impact on the boards. Tristan Spurlock (11.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is also a strong rebounder, but Calvin Newell Jr. (10 ppg) is the only other double-digit scorer despite being just a 38.2 percent shooter.
Playing on its home floor should help UCF build off its solid offensive effort against Houston and this time, produce a victory against a Rutgers squad that is just 1-8 on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 71, Rutgers 64
02/26 10:49:31 ET