Game Preview: Rutgers at Cincinnati

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers basketball is on high alert in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The toughest stretch of the season continues tonight at Cincinnati, a team that already has one win over the Scarlet Knights this year.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers faces the all-too-familiar feeling of digging a whole too deep to escape from in this three-game losing streak. Once poised to grab a share of third place in the Big East, the Scarlet Knights have three straight losses and stand in 12th place.

Rutgers already has one loss to Cincinnati this year and now faces the 24th ranked Bearcats on the road following nine days of rest.

"We have to go in and show a consistent urgency and a consistent need and fight," said head coach Mike Rice. "… We're going to get out of it, just now we have to be consistent. When we go on a run, we can't get satisfied. We can't get happy. We can't get relaxed."

Rutgers (12-7, 3-5) has been in much worse shape at the end of January, however. For senior forward Austin Johnson, who was a part of three straight teams without meaningful late-season games, the 3-2 start in Big East play has him believing in a turnaround.

"We have enough games where we can come out and prove ourselves," Johnson said. "The postseason is still a goal we believe in. … It's extremely important to step up right now. We're already behind, below .500, so you know once you start playing in the Big East it's very hard to stop the bleeding."

Round one of Rutgers and Cincinnati ended with the Bearcats as 68-58 winners in ugly fashion.

Cincinnati, at the time, was in desperation mode after two straight losses and came out with an impressive defensive effort. Holding Rutgers to 15 first-half points, Cincinnati wore down the Scarlet Knights.

"They're going to try to punch us every time down the court and we have to be more prepared for that," Johnson said. "We have to be more cognizant of trying to just be tougher and rebounding better and defending the ugly threes to be successful."

Guard Cashmere Wright led all scorers with 23 points in 33 minutes.

"Cashmere Wright is a handful," Rice said. "He's a veteran. He's been through these wars and has tremendous confidence and toughness about him. He does exactly what you want him to do with his basketball team."

Inside the Numbers

0 -- Myles Mack has missed zero free throws since the start of Big East play.

15 -- Rutgers scored just 15 points in the first of against Cincinnati earlier this year.

18.7 -- Eli Carter averages 18.7 points per game on the road this year, as opposed to 15.1 at home.

21 -- A career-high 21 points Sunday from Jerome Seagears has him up to 5.4 points per game and 7.9 points per start.

32 -- Forward Kadeem Jack played a career-high 32 minutes in the loss to Connecticut. It was his third career start.

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