Rice on Reaching .500: "It's huge!"

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers concludes the regular season Saturday at Providence (7 p.m.), and has the opportunity to achieve a few things the program hasn't done in a while, and something else it hasn't done since joining the Big East. Getting a win would push Rutgers to .500 heading into the Big East Tournament, and coach Mike Rice said "it's huge" when asked of its significance.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers coach Mike Rice always looks for a piece of motivation, and he found some in an easy place heading into Saturday's regular season finale at Providence.

After coming off a four-point win at DePaul, the Scarlet Knights (14-15, 5-12 Big East) have a chance to finish the regular season with a .500 record for the first time in five years.

"It's huge," Rice said. "It's .500. You don't want to be losers. Everything we could attain this season, we're going to try to attain. You may think it's small …not finishing dead-last in field goal percentage defense (Rutgers is fifth). All the things that we're going to try to attain is help for the future, so, yeah, I think it's huge."

If 13th-place Rutgers can defeat the 14th-place Friars (14-16, 3-14), several other building blocks would be laid down.

When playing consecutive Big East conference games on the road, Rutgers has never won both.

A win would give the Scarlet Knights back-to-back conference road wins for the first time since Jan. 2000 (when the wins sandwiched two home games), give them three league road wins in a season for the third time since joining the Big East, and send them to Madison Square Garden to face rival Seton Hall on Tuesday with plenty of momentum.

"I know I don't want to finish with a losing record," Rice said. "I know I want to win three Big East (road) games because we haven't done it in a long time. I'd like to do things that haven't been done in this program."

The last time Rutgers did not finish below .500 was 2005-06, when it went 19-14. Since joining the Big East in 1995-96, the Scarlet Knights finished .500 or above four times, and won at least six conference games on six occasions.

"If you don't have a losing record, that's pretty good for the resume," Rutgers senior guard Mike Coburn said. "I think we underachieved. I thought this team was really good and we were going to have a chance to make some more noise and win a couple more games. We haven't won as many games as I thought we would, and expected we would win."

Reaching .500 is one goal, and Coburn has another.

During his freshman season, Rutgers didn't reach the Big East Tournament. The field was expanded to include every conference school the following season, but the Scarlet Knights bowed out in the first round each of the last two years.

Ending that string is important to Coburn.

"It's a weird goal," he said. "I've never won a game in the Big East Tournament, I've never been a part of any postseason, and I want to win as many games as possible to make things happen. We need some wins to make those things happen."

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