FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York.
Television: MSG2, MSG+. Home Record: Iona 2-0, Rutgers 3-1. Away Record: Iona
0-1, Rutgers 1-1. Neutral Record: Iona 1-2, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record:
Iona 1-1, Rutgers 0-0. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 2-1
GAMES NOTES: As part of the MSG Holiday Festival the Iona Gaels will take on
the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a non-conference battle at Madison Square
Garden on Saturday night.
Iona suffered a difficult 64-62 loss to Saint Peters which came on a last
second jump shot. The loss, which was in the first true road game for Iona,
evened the Gaels' overall record this season to 3-3. A trip down to Athens to
face Georgia awaits Iona following this tilt.
Rutgers was also handed a loss in its last outing. The Scarlet Knights faced
Ole Miss on the road as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge and were taken down
80-67. The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Rutgers. In home contests
Rutgers is 2-1, with the only loss interestingly enough coming against Saint
Peters in the season opener. Rutgers will next begin a four-game homestand
against George Washington on Tuesday.
There have only been three previous meetings between these squads. The last
matchup came during the 2006-07 season when Rutgers downed the Gaels 66-51 to
earn its second win in the series.
Iona led by as many as 11 points against Saint Peters but was unable to hold
it together down the stretch. The Gaels had a 60-59 lead with 2:06 remaining
but then allowed a layup plus a foul shot that put them down 62-60. Lamont
Jones answered with a jump shot to even it up with 40 seconds remaining.
However Blaise Ffrench nailed a jumper of his own with four seconds left on
the clock and Jones missed a final shot at the buzzer. Sean Armand led the
scoring for Iona with 19 points to go with eight rebounds.
The offensive showing for Iona against Saint Peters ended a four-game streak
of at least 81 points scored by Iona, which has had no shortage of offense
this season. The Gaels are scoring 79.5 points per game and shooting a
respectable 45.5 percent from the field. The Gaels' scoring average ranks as
the 25th best in the country. Iona's defensive efforts have been less than
stellar with the Gaels allowing 74.3 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting.
Jones (21.0 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Armand (20.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 apg) have
provided a dynamic scoring duo in the backcourt. Jones has shown no fear in
hoisting up shots but hits only 43.1 percent, while Armand has been more
efficient (55.0 FG percentage). Tre Bowman (12.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is also scoring
in double figures, while Tavon Sledger (8.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Taaj Ridley (7.7
ppg, 6.7 rpg) power the team on the boards.
Rutgers managed to secure a 36-32 lead at halftime against Ole Miss by
limiting the Rebels to 35.3 percent shooting, while hitting 40.0 percent of
its own shots. The Scarlet Knights also benefited from a 6-of-21 effort from
the free-throw line by Ole Miss in the first half. Rutgers couldn't keep up
the pressure on defense in the second half as Ole Miss hit 53.3 percent of its
shots to run away with the win. Rutgers committed 31 fouls as a team and had
two different players foul out.
In comparison to the rest of the Big East, Rutgers is a rather mediocre
offensive team. The Scarlet Knights are scoring 72.2 points per game and
shooting 46.7 percent from the field which rank eighth and fifth in the
conference, respectively. The Scarlet Knights are also managing to control
the glass with a +6.5 edge in rebounding. Rutgers also commits the most fouls
per game (19.7) of any team in the Big East. Eli Carter (16.7 ppg) leads the
scoring charge out of the backcourt but his contributions in other areas have
been rather limited. Myles Mack (14.8 ppg) has had similar productivity
issues. Wally Judge (7.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) doesn't light it up, but is the team's
top rebounder, while Dane Miller (7.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has had success when given
the opportunity to score, hitting 65.5 percent of his shot attempts.
The scoring tandem of Jones and Armand gives Iona a chance against just about
every team it faces. Rutgers doesn't have the individual scoring punch to
match but may be able to outlast the Gaels with its superior depth.