The early reports from Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice are that leading scorer Elijah Carter is doing well following his broken right fibula.
Out for the season following the injury, Carter is not expected to need surgery after an ugly fall in the loss to DePaul.
“It was a good checkup yesterday, a good visit,” Rice said. “They still don’t think surgery will be needed. They’re going to check weekly for the first three weeks to make sure things are going according to plan. They’re going to check weekly for the first three weeks to make sure everything is going to plan.”
Rice said that team athletic trainer Eric Bridenbaugh will be available to the media tomorrow to discuss the details of Carter’s injury and rehabilitation.
Without Carter’s 14.9 points per game, Rutgers relied heavily on sophomore guard Myles Mack against Villanova.
Mack, who earned All-Big East weekly honors a career-high 28 points against Villanova, followed up with his most complete game as a Scarlet Knight. Mack was a key burst scorer and finished with 24 points and eight rebounds in what ultimately became another late-game collapse.
Without Carter available, Mack and sophomore Jerome Seagears played 35 minutes apiece and wore down by the end of the game.
“I thought our guys responded with a great team performance,” Rice said. “We just, for five or six minutes, didn’t finish. Whether it’s possessions, rebounding, [we] didn’t take care of the ball and let a very talented Villanova team kind of impose their will in the second half.”
Rutgers (13-12, 4-10) is not out of the post-season picture, but needs to find a way to replace Carter without gassing the remaining two sophomore guards.
With four games left and the Big East tournament, Rutgers needs a strong finish to keep hopes of a .500 record alive.
The quest to bounce back continues with the final game of a long February of losing. The Scarlet Knights host Providence Saturday night with the Friars riding a dangerous hot steak.
Before a loss to No. 8 Syracuse yesterday, Providence had four straight wins, including Villanova, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
“Coach Rice is a great coach, he’ll figure it out,” said Providence coach Ed Cooley on Carter’s injury. “Myles Mack has really picked his game up Seagaers has picked his game up. …Mike’s teams play very hard, They’re very good in their building and we’re still trying to play with a purpose, so that’s a key game for us as we move forward.”