Preview of game...
The Marquette Golden Eagles look to continue their winning start to Big East play against Rutgers in Piscataway on Wednesday night
Coming off their first Big East game of the year, the Marquette Golden Eagles will head to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, in their first road game of conference play.
Rutgers (9-4, 0-1) brings a different look to the floor this year, most noticeably on the bench. Former Marquette assistant coach ('94-'97) Mike Rice is now the headman for the Scarlet Knights after winning 23-or-more games in the past three seasons at Robert Morris.
The Scarlet Knights have been off to a solid—but not spectacular—start to the season, having knocked off BCS opponents Miami (FL) and Auburn. On the other hand, they lost handily to North Carolina and Villanova and slipped up at Princeton and at St. Joseph's.
Coming into the season, Rice knew he had a big void to fill since last year's leading scorer Mike Rosario decided to transfer to Florida. In addition, Hamady N'diaye and Greg Echenique were no longer in the fold.
He has been able to replace the scoring but it has been done in a much more balanced fashion. This season, four players are averaging over nine points a game for Rutgers, led by redshirt senior forward Jonathan Mitchell at 13.0 points per game. Mitchell, a tough six-foot-seven combo forward has been much more proficient from beyond the arc this season (41 percent versus 35 last year).
Sophomore forward Dane Miller has poured in 10.3 points per game this year and leads the team in rebounding at just over six per game. He is very capable of filling up the stat sheet, as he showed in his freshman season, but has not quite made the leap to being the team's premier player.
Mike Coburn brings senior leadership and double digit scoring to the Scarlet Knight's backcourt. James Beatty, also a senior (JUCO transfer), does a good job of forcing turnovers (2.1 spg) and has shown an ability to hit from the perimeter.
A pair of freshman (and high school teammates), Gilvydas Biruta and Mike Poole have contributed early in their careers for Rutgers. Biruta, a burly six-foot-eight forward, has provided muscle on the inside. He has put up just over nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes per contest. Poole has provided solid play on the wing, scoring just over seven points per outing.
As is true with any road game, let alone a BIG EAST Conference road game, things will not come easy for Marquette. The Scarlet Knights have a perfect 7-0 home record this season at the Louis Brown Athletic Center (also known as the RAC), which could be trouble for the Golden Eagles, who have won just one game away from the Bradley Center this season.