Frustration Rising with Losing Streak at Six

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers kept it close but had no answer for Otto Porter in the final minutes of a 69-63 loss to Georgetown. With the losing streak at six, the Scarlet Knights are approaching do-or-die territory with Seton Hall coming to the RAC Tuesday night.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers coach Mike Rice had no answer when asked why his team could not finish down the stretch. In the locker room after the 69-63 loss to No. 20 Georgetown, the feeling was similar.

According to Rice, Rutgers missed 21 shot attempts in the paint. Unable to offer any solution other than simply playing better, the Scarlet Knights feel the aggravation behind their six-game losing streak.

"It's definitely frustrating because that's what's going to get us the win in these close games," said sophomore guard Jerome Seagears. "In order for us to win, we just have to work on it.

"We just have to find ways to win. We did better than we did [against] Louisville, but that's not going to get it done in the win and loss column. The only thing that counts at the end of the day is the ‘W'."

Whether there is a tangible answer or not, Rutgers is approaching its do-or-die moment of the season. Fittingly, the turning point likely comes Tuesday against in-state rival Seton Hall.

Rutgers snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Seton Hall last season and, with frustration mounting, will need to do the same Tuesday to jump back into postseason talk.

Rice wants his team to take losses personally and use it as fuel to bounce back. During the current losing streak, that will not be an issue against the Pirates, Seagears said.

"It's definitely [getting to us]," Seagears said. "Even one game loss is going to get to you."

Rutgers (12-10, 3-8) is at a crossroads heading into the "easy" finish to the Big East schedule.

Five of the last seven games come against un-ranked teams. Two come against the equally-struggling Seton Hall Pirates. At this point, Rutgers can either get back to its usual sub .500 season or get over the hill in close games to make a push forward.

"This season is not over," said senior forward Austin Johnson, who has been through three losing streaks of six or more. "Nobody in this program believes [it's over]. We're not happy with how we're playing, but we just have to get back at it and get ready for the next one."

There are plenty of technical flaws during the six-game skid. Rutgers is not consistently finishing high-percentage shots, prone to second-half breakdowns and lacking a "take over" player in crunch time.

But most importantly, Rutgers has to find a way out of its mental funk that is admittedly playing a role.

"We had passion and played for each other today," said head coach Mike Rice after the loss toe Georgetown. "But when you lose, it takes the joy away from your everyday experience. You mope to class, you mope during training table, you're fighting through practice because of the competition.

"When someone loses the competition you are not going to feel the joy or energy that winning gives. We have to get that back. The phrase ‘winning solves everything' is a well-used phrase and it does. It brings the energy and joy. I like the compete we showed out there, but it doesn't matter – you have to win. I look forward to Tuesday."

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