Game Preview: St. John's at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – School is back in session and the Rutgers basketball team yet again has an opportunity to make program history at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. In a rematch against St. John's, a win gives Rutgers its first 4-3 conference record since joining the Big East. More importantly, it stops the first potential losing streak of the year.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The odds of a decisive victory are slim for both sides when Rutgers and St. John's face off tonight at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Since the respective arrivals of Mike Rice and Steve Lavin, the Scarlet Knights and Red Storm made all four meetings a one-possession game.

A St. John's miss at the buzzer gave Rutgers a 58-56 victory at Madison Square Garden early this year and a similar contest is expected at the RAC tonight.

"There's a good chance it's going to be a one-possession game," Rice said. "It has been every other time. [There is] a good chance a lot of Big East games will come down to one possession, so you have to practice and prepare like it and every possession counts."

Rutgers has not had back-to-back losses since February of last year and looks to keep the streak alive. After coming up short in a 13-point comeback at Notre Dame, Rutgers (12-5, 3-3) continues to face uncharted territory when it comes to Big East success.

A win puts the Scarlet Knights into a tie for third place in the Big East standings, but a loss drops them to the dreaded losing column.

"This game is everything for us because we know how hard it is to battle back from [a losing record]," said senior forward Austin Johnson. "We definitely feel confident against these guys, but you can't be too confident. If you take anybody less seriously than anybody else they'll come up and beat you. They're a great team. They beat Notre Dame, who we just lost to. … They're bound to come in here and really be aggressive."

For the second time this season, Rutgers faces two of the biggest impact players in the conference in guard D'Angelo Harrison and center Chris Obekpa. Both electrified the Garden against Rutgers and kept the Scarlet Knights from breaking away during the last meeting.

Obekpa blocked five shots inside and Harrison was borderline unstoppable with 20 points.

"You lose sleep when you watch film on [Harrison] and his ability to hit tough shots," Rice said. "… He's such a dangerous player, especially the last four minutes."

Inside the Numbers

2 -- Opponents have an average of two more rest days than Rutgers during the seven-game stretch that began at St. John's. Cincinnati has nine days off before it hosts Rutgers next week.

5 -- Sophomore Jerome Seagears has five straight starts at guard, after coming off the bench in every game except the season-opener.

12 -- Sophomore Elijah Carter has hit the 20-point mark 12 times in his career, most recently in the Saturday loss to Notre Dame.

33 -- Though Harrison scored 20 points in the last meeting, he shot just 33 percent from the floor and missed four free throws.

50 -- Senior Dane Miller dished out his team-leading 50th assist of the season against Notre Dame.

983 -- Miller has 983 career points on the Banks.


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