Louisville, nursing a two-point lead, was on upset alert at the half. But when the momentum shifted early in the second half, the Scarlet Knights collapsed. Rutgers coach Mike Rice likes to challenge his team to respond after being "punched in the mouth."
When Louisville delivered a second-half right hook in the form of a 13-0 run, Rutgers responded with more turnovers than field goals in what became a 20-point loss.
"We have to fix it," said junior forward Wally Judge after the loss. "We have to just play more consistently, tougher when something goes wrong. … We, as a team, subconsciously let up."
One of the few constants for Rutgers (12-9, 3-7) it its losing streak has been a dead stretch in the second half.
Opponents are outscoring Rutgers by 9.6 points per game in the second half during the five-game skid. In the first half, Rutgers is close to even trailing by an average of 1.8 points after 20 minutes.
"If you're making the same mistakes, you're a bad team and right now we're doing that," Rice said. "Trying to negate those same mistakes is something that we have to do, especially in critical moments in games."
Lack of response has Rice's constant criticism of the team during its second-half struggles, but the numbers remain on his side going into the final month of the season.
Rutgers has been shut out of the postseason for close to a decade, but is still in position to make a push with its upcoming schedule. Three games over .500, Rutgers has a significantly lighter schedule to close out the year. Rutgers will see just three more ranked teams before the NCAA tournament. With eight games left in the regular season, five or six wins may be enough to end the post-season drought that dates back to Gary Waters.
"No doubt, we have eight games left [and] this team has shown signs of being able to compete at the highest level of this league and be successful," Rice said. "But it certainly hasn't happened in the last two-and-a-half, three weeks."
2.6 -- Dane Miller is averaging 2.6 points per game during the five-game losing streak. He played a season-low 18 minutes against Louisville and saw his 46-game starting streak snap.
3 Facing No. 20 Georgetown, Rutgers plays its third straight ranked opponent.
9.6 -- During the five-game losing streak, Rutgers is being outscored by an average of 9.6 points per game in the second half.
33 -- Seeing 71 total minutes going into the week, sophomore Derrick Randall played 33 minutes in the last two games.
52 -- The 52 points against Louisville was the lowest output for Rutgers since last year's 52-50 loss to Georgetown at the Verizon Center.