Rutgers Takes Down Fighting Irish

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A return to the Louis Brown Athletic Center rejuvenated the Rutgers basketball team after an ugly road loss to West Virginia. Facing Notre Dame, the Scarlet Knights out-played the Irish for 40 minutes and came away with a 65-58 victory, improving to 3-3 in the Big East.

The return to the Louis Brown Athletic Center was just what the Rutgers basketball team needed. On 48 hours rest after a 24-point loss to West Virginia, the Scarlet Knights brought a new level of intensity to the RAC, behind an electric student section, and defeated Notre Dame, 65-58.

"We couldn't have won this the first four weeks of the season," said head coach Mike Rice. "We would have gotten in our own way. Tonight, we seemed to get out of our own way and ... win a game."

Rutgers continues to show just how good it can be when its young roster is collectively on its game. Following dynamic home wins over No. 10 Florida and No. 8 Connecticut, the Scarlet Knights used 23 combined points from freshman guards Elijah Carter and Jerome Seagears to drop the Fighting Irish and improve to 3-3 in conference play.

"This is a chance for this program to finally matter, finally become relevant," Rice said. "It's just one game, we're 3-3, that's great, but there's a lot of basketball [left]. Hopefully they understand how to do what's made them successful."

Rutgers remained in the lead for the entire second half, after being up by as many as eight points in the first.

Leading 61-57 with 40 seconds on the clock, Seagears blew the roof off the RAC with the game-clinching play. Running the shot-clock down, Seagears drove through the lane, drew a blocking foul and calmly nailed two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Carter led Rutgers in scoring for the fifth time in six games, shooting 5-of-14 from the floor in 37 minutes.

Rutgers received solid post play from its upper classmen in the win. Junior Austin Johnson scored 10 points off the bench and Dane Miller and Gilvydas Biruta each put up solid numbers as starters.

Miller scored five points, pulled down eight boards and blocked four shots while Biruta scored nine points in 16 minutes.

In Miller's last four games, he averaged nine points, 9.5 rebounds and two blocks per game.

"I have no idea why, but I'd like it to keep going," Rice said on Miller's renewed energy level.

With students returning from break and a 9 p.m. tip, the 6,334 fans came out with a packed student section. For the first time this season, the staff turned fans away from an overflowed student section to the upper deck.

"The energy was incredible tonight," Miller said. "We try to give our fans what they want and they were great for us tonight. Hopefully that continues."

Rutgers (11-8, 3-3) returns to action Saturday at the Verizon Center against Georgetown.

"It's going to be tough and we're going to have to lock in for the last couple days of practice," Miller said. "... To me, we really need that game. That's our Super Bowl."

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