Rice: Rutgers "Desperate" Against Georgetown

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- After a second straight strong day of practice, Rutgers coach Mike Rice was asked if he expected a struggling Georgetown to be desperate coming to the RAC on Saturday. Rice flipped the tables, and said it wasn't the Hoyas who were the desperate ones. Rice also talked about whether the Scarlet Knights are soft, and guard James Beatty gave his thoughts on the recent skid.

With only one win in Big East play and coming off a double-digit loss to a top 10 team, the situation smacks of desperation.

It defines Rutgers, but also Georgetown.

The two teams meet Saturday at the Rutgers Athletic Center (noon, ESPNU), and Rutgers coach Mike Rice was asked if he expected the Hoyas to be desperate.

"No. Rutgers," Rice said. "Rutgers has to be desperate. It's at home. We can't fall out of these standings. Whatever they bring, they bring. …You're going to see a desperate team in Rutgers. I don't know what the heck they're going to be."

Georgetown, despite its No. 22 ranking, is a team in trouble. The Hoyas (12-5. 1-4 Big East) lost three straight, including a 15-point home loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and their only conference win came against DePaul, which is 6-10 (0-4).

However, Rutgers (10-6, 1-3) isn't sailing along either, and is coming off its second second-half meltdown in four conference games.

After allowing Connecticut to start the second half on a 20-2 run in Tuesday's 14-point road loss, Rice questioned the mental toughness of the players and said the team quit.

Following Thursday's practice, which Rice said was the second good one in as many days, he expounded on his post-UConn thoughts.

"I don't know if it was so much as we quit when we were on the floor," Rice said. "I didn't like, and the coaches didn't like, the energy and communication that we lacked. In the Providence (win), I couldn't say a word in some of the huddles because they didn't let me because (James Beatty) and Mike (Coburn) were telling me, ‘Stop yelling, we got this.'

"(At UConn), it was like they were sitting in a church and afraid to talk. I hated that. When they punched us in the face the first two minutes, I had five guys with glazed, stunned looks on their face."

The distressing part was it marked the second time Rutgers went into the half at a top 10 school in good position, but were blitzed coming out of the locker room. The Scarlet Knights led by four at the half against Villanova earlier this month.

Beatty said the seniors – himself, Coburn and Jonathan Mitchell – need to be more active and vocal during halftime.

"When we get in there, it's quiet," Beatty said. "I guess (it is) because guys are trying to get their thoughts together and rest, but at the same time we have to do more talking, continue to be as fired up in the locker room at halftime as we were on the court.

"If you're dead in the locker room coming out, you're dead on the court coming out …and make it known that we do lay down in the second half and keep these guys more locked in."

Beatty also agreed with Rice's notion the Scarlet Knights were soft in the second half against the Huskies, citing the lack of rebounding effort, not diving on the floor for loose balls, failing to attack offensively and giving up too many second-chance points.

However, there is a perplexing part to the equation.

"We don't practice soft," Beatty said. "If you see our first half, that's not soft. So, I don't know why in the second half we play soft."

Since Rutgers is 9-68 in Big East road games since 2002, is it possible the players don't believe they can win conference games on the road?

"I'm not sure. That's a great question," Rice said. "Do they truly believe? Go back to my days at Robert Morris, my guys believed they could beat Villanova and Boston College. When they went to a guarantee game, they believed. I don't know if this team truly believes they can do it.

"There's certainly not a fight when something bad happens against top tier competition."

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