Miller Leads Rutgers Past Seton Hall, 66-60

NEWARK -- Rutgers sophomore wing Dane Miller scored 17 points, had 10 rebounds and played stellar defense against Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell to spearhead a 66-60 win Saturday at the Prudential Center. It was Rutgers' second straight win, and give the Scarlet Knights (12-7, 3-4) their best seven-game start in conference play since 2005-06.

NEWARK – Holding an eight point lead and not wanting a second-half letdown, sophomore wing Dane Miller told his Rutgers teammates superior defense was the only way to win the game.

(Yes, it's true.)

On a long list of proofs first-year coach Mike Rice is turning around the attitude inside the program, Miller's commitment to – and understanding of – the importance of defense is arguably the most tangible.

And it is not only talk coming from Miller, but results as well because his defense on Seton Hall leading scorer Jeremy Hazell was the inspiration behind Rutgers' 66-60 win against the rival Pirates on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 8,929 at the Prudential Center.

Hazell, who was averaging 19.8 points per game, finished with 15, but it came on 6 of 21 shooting. He was 2 of 11 from 3-point range, which told a large story why the Pirates (8-12, 2-6 Big East) were 6 of 27 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc and shot 33.8 percent from the field.

"Dane was locked in the whole time, and we all know about his athleticism and his length, and that certainly bothered (Hazell)," Rice said. "He had a relentlessness to him, and it was the reason why we won."

Miller's defense wasn't his only impact.

After scoring two points in the first half, he finished with a game-high 17 points and snatched 10 rebounds as the Scarlet Knights (12-7, 3-4) ended a four-game losing streak to the Pirates and won back-to-back Big East games for just the fourth time in five years.

It also gives Rutgers its best conference start since going 3-4 in 2005-06. That season Rutgers lost its next three league games.

"It feels good to get a road win," Miller said. "It's a rivalry game, get this road win so it's two wins in a row, and then we have another game on the road (Wednesday at Cincinnati), so hopefully we get that one."

Freshman center Gilvydas Biruta added 12 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double, and also did a solid job against the bigger, stronger and more experienced Herb Pope, who still finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Rutgers senior Jonathan Mitchell scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half as Rutgers built a 31-23 lead at the half.

The Scarlet Knights, which trailed only after the game's first basket, was more aggressive rebounding and played with a higher intensity on defense. They led by as many as 14 in the first half, and stretched their second-half lead to 36-25 on Miller's lay-in with 17:29 to play.

"This goes to show you we can compete in the Big East and that we can win ballgames," Mitchell said. "We just have to get hungry. We can't be satisfied winning a few games early."

Rutgers maintained its lead throughout the half, and was in position to put the game away when Biruta's two free throws made it 53-43 with 5:14 left.

However, that is also when the free throw shooting turned embarrassing.

In the final 3:26, Rutgers went 8 for 17 from the line as Seton Hall got as close as four points before Miller made his last three to seal the win.

"Yes, I would like us to make free throws," Rice said. "Was I sweating? Yes, I always sweat."

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