In the first game back on the court, the sloppy play-style carried over from Princeton. Yet again, Rutgers put things together for a second-half run, with one difference.
Dane Miller showed up and dominated. Electrifying the team with seven blocked shots and a trio of powerful slam dunks, Miller was the most dominant player on the court and led Rutgers to a 81-66 victory.
"It was one individual who kind of, without saying a word, kind of brought the rest of this team [to] a level of play to where he was playing and that was Dane Miller," said head coach Mike Rice of Miller, who finished with 13 points, 11 boards and seven blocks. "He certainly was flying around making plays. I'd still like him to shoot more, especially in the first half of the game. He had an energy and a purpose to his game that was lacking early in this season."
It was not pretty. Rutgers struggled with turnovers and a low shooting percentage. By no means was it a technically sound performance, but the Scarlet Knights came out with a win and evened their record to .500 after losing four out of five.
Shaking off the rust in the first half, Rutgers looked like it was supposed to against a 2-8 Monmouth team in the second half. Putting the Hawks away with a 10-0 run midway through the period, freshman guard Elijah Carter scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
"I have been going a lot harder in practice," Carter said. "In the game, my teammates just kept giving me the ball. ....I was making shots, so they were giving me the ball."
Five Scarlet Knights scored in double figures in a balanced effort. Rutgers drew 25 fouls and shot 20-for-27 from the line.
"We were in attack mode," Rice said. "That's what I want my teams to do. I want my teams aggressive. I want them to dictate on both ends and they certainly did that."
One-time Rutgers commit Andrew Nicholas fouled out in 25 minutes of action. Nicholas, who committed to coach Fred Hill Jr., but was not recruited by Rice, scored seven points and committed six turnovers.
Rutgers returns to action Saturday at Madison Square Garden to play Stony Brook before hosting NJIT going into Christmas.
"I think after this weekend, after what we went through in practice, they were excited to get that taste out of their mouth," Rice said. "... This weekend was focused on us, us as a whole trusting each other, building a better team. It was me vs. my team for a while to kind of try to bring them together."