Saint Peter's (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rutgers Athletic Center (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: RVision, SNY. Home Record: Saint Peter's 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Away Record: Saint Peter's 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Neutral Record: Saint Peter's 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record: Saint Peter's 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 11-2.
GAME NOTES: College basketball in the Garden State opens with a bang in Piscataway tonight, as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights entertain the Saint Peter's Peacocks in non-conference play at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
The Scarlet Knights, led by head coach Mike Rice, are members of the Big East Conference which means the toughest part of their schedule comes in the second half when they match up against a slew of nationally-ranked programs. Last season, Rutgers had issues in the new calendar year as it won a total of just six games and eventually finished 14-18 overall. The Knights, who are tipping off this year earlier than any other in school history, posted only six wins in 18 league bouts and were taken out in the first round of games in the conference tournament by Villanova, 70-49.
After delivering a sensational 20-14 mark in 2010-11, the Peacocks returned to their dismal days as they won a total of just five games in 31 chances last year for head coach John Dunne. Members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Peacocks lost their final seven games of the regular season and also dropped a 64-57 final to Marist in the conference tournament.
If not for Canisius and Siena, a pair of league foes that Saint Peter's defeated twice each, the Peacocks would have been blanked by the rest of the league.
In terms of the all-time series, one that dates back to 1975, the Knights have won all but two of 13 matchups, the most recent of those being a narrow 55-52 decision two seasons ago. The last win for Saint Peter's over Rutgers was a 65-58 verdict at home in 2007.
Scoring points was not one of the strong points for the Peacocks last season, but what would you expect from a team that won just five games. The squad was near the bottom in Division I with a mere 58.0 ppg as they shot just 40.6 percent from the field. Darius Conley, who is again on the roster for this season, is the top returning scorer for the group after putting up 11.6 ppg. As someone who operated better in the paint, resulting in a team-best 7.4 rpg, Conley was smart enough to know that he was far from proficient from three- point range which is why he didn't try a single shot from the perimeter. Now a senior, guard Chris Prescott (10.1 ppg) will be asked to be the leader when it comes to three-point shooting, after he knocked down a team-best 62 triples a year ago. Yvon Raymond (7.5 ppg) can also be a key contributor, as long as he keeps from getting into foul trouble.
Last year, the Scarlet Knights had one of the youngest teams in the nation and again they remain youthful, but the experience they gained in 2011-12 is certainly something they'll build on moving forward. Despite being only a freshman a year ago, guard Eli Carter is the top returning scorer for the group after producing 13.8 ppg. The only player on the team to score in double figures last season, Carter did so by hitting a team-high 55 three-pointers, while his assist total (68) was third on the unit and his steals (42) second which makes him one of the better all-around players on the roster. Another key performer is Dane Miller (7.9 ppg), who was known for his efforts in the paint (6.6 rpg and 51 blocked shots) and not so much his perimeter shooting (11-of-39).
Rutgers is far from one of the top teams in the Big East, but taking care of an opponent that won just five games all of last season should not be that much of a challenge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 69, Saint Peter's 56
11/09 10:38:30 ET