Game Preview: DePaul vs. Rutgers

NEW YORK -- The Big East tournament kicked off this afternoon with Rutgers set to face DePaul in the final game of the day. Seeking revenge from two staright losses to the Blue Demons, the Scarlet Knights expect to make noise in their final Big East tournament as the No. 11 seed.

NEW YORK – Time after time during the Big East regular season, Rutgers came up one play short and did not have the toughness to grit out a victory.

Dropping a 75-69 decision to last-place DePaul and losing their leading scorer for the season in the process, the Scarlet Knights yet again have revenge in their sights following what transpired in the regular season.

Starting with DePaul tonight and hungry for rematches with Notre Dame and Marquette, Rutgers does not plan on going away quietly. The Scarlet Knights lost those three games by 15 total points and had a one-possession game in the final two minutes of all of them.

"It's the Big East," said Rutgers coach Mike Rice. "Anybody can win or lose on any given night. It's showed that during the season. We had a layup with seven seconds to go at Notre Dame and Marquette was a nip-and-tuck affair to the last two minutes. … But we don't get to those games unless you take care of DePaul. Everybody's focus and complete effort is in preparation for DePaul because they're a very talented team."

The Blue Demons have been at the bottom of the league the last two years but still managed to get the better of Rutgers in consecutive matchups.

For a program still looking to push for an NIT bid or CBI appearance, another loss to DePaul is unacceptable.

"We have to beat DePaul," said sophomore wing Malick Kone. "I always keep telling that to my team. We lost to them twice in a row, so we have to beat them. I'm excited to play against them, especially Brandon Young. He was my teammate at my last school."

Rutgers (14-15, 5-13) nearly collapsed against DePaul after Elijah Carter fractured his fibula with 10 minutes left to play until Myles Mack caught fire.

The most dynamic scoring output in Mack's young college career, he led Rutgers to a tie game in Chicago, but Rutgers fell short in the final minutes.

Mack finished the game with a career-high 28 points. Rutgers has now had three weeks without Carter, however, and must find other ways to get the ball in the basket, Mack said.

"We lost in the first round last year and we lost to DePaul, so we're just trying to come out and get a first-round win," Mack said. "We didn't win last year so this year we're trying to take an opportunity to get a win."

Inside the Numbers

4 Rutgers averages four more fouls per game than its opponents in Big East play, highlighted by its 30 team fouls against Georgetown.

14 -- Mike Poole averages 14 points per game this season at Madison Square Garden, compared to 3.5 at other venues.

14.5 -- DePaul star Cleveland Melvin averages 14.5 points per game against Rutgers.

25 -- After leading by four at the half, Rutgers was outscored by 25 points in a brutal second half that resulted in a first-round loss to Villanova in the 2012 Big East tournament.

45 -- Myles Mack's 45 percent clip from long range is the best in the conference in Big East play.

51.5 -- Shooting 51.5 percent from the floor this season, senior Austin Johnson ranks 15th in Rutgers basketball history.


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