"We have to learn from last weekend, because when we didn't shoot well, we didn't come out and execute the next possession or become more disciplined," said Mike Rice, who coached Ruters to its highest assist total in 19 years. "We have to learn that when shots don't go in, that you don't shoot a three off the first pass and contested shot. These guys are learning the offense, allowing the offense to work for them. Tonight kind of validates what we're teaching, what we're doing."
UMBC kept the game close for the first eight minutes before the Scarlet Knights closed out the first half on a 23-10 run. The second half went much of the same thanks to 22 combined second-half points from forwards Gilvydas Birtuta and Mike Poole. Biruta and Poole each finished with 13 points.
Rice benched junior forward Dane Miller in favor of Poole after two uninspired performances in the Cancun Challenge.
Miller, who Rice frequently calls on for leadership, already sat through a one-game suspension for academic reasons during the team's preseason exhibition.
1:34 "I wanted to kind of wake them up a little bit. It's going to change this year Miller played 14 minutes off the bench and did not score a basket.
"It wasn't really tough," Miller said of not starting. "At the same time, I was the first one off the bench and give guys handshakes. I gave them advice and was telling them where to look and to keep their head up. It doesn't really matter. I still contributed to the team with the way I played." The freshman class was active offensively, including a game-high 20 points from guard Myles Mack. Freshman Jerome Seagears scored seven points and pulled down a career high 10 rebounds. Elijah Carter scored 12 points off the bench.
"If they do that we're going to be in every single game," Rice said of his freshman guards. "I don't care who we're facing."
Forward Greg Lewis, who grew up 11 miles from UMBC, even got in on the action with his first career basket. The 6-foot-9 forward logged the first two field goals of his career in 16 minutes off the bench.
Rutgers returns to action Saturday against LSU as a part of the SEC/Big East Invitational. The Tigers are 3-3 to start the season.