Frustration did not yet evolve into discouragement, but Rutgers needed something to change the trajectory of its season. A 89-72 near-blowout over UNC Greensboro has the Scarlet Knights feeling good going into an eight-day break.
"The thing we have to take from it is to have fun," said senior center Wally Judge. "A lot of times in the losses, we did gel but then we got away from that. Then the game become unfun and we would try to answer by making individual plays when we needed team effort. Tonight it was just fun."
Enough was enough for team captain Myles Mack and company. Mack played well through most of the four-game Rutgers losing streak.
In the blowout of UNC Greensboro, he was the best player on the court and it wasn't even close. Mack went the whole game without committing a turnover. That came alongside a game-high 21 points, eight assists, five steals and four boards.
"We got a lot of rebounds and we just pushed," Mack said. "The bigs ran the transition. We got them some touches and they finished well. I think that made both of us (Mack and Judge) look good."
Most impressively, Mack did it the day after his front two teeth were knocked out in practice.
"He hit the floor mouth-first and parts of two teeth came out," Jordan said. "Our dentists did a great job of bonding them back and he came out like a warrior and competed. That's a double-whammy for him. It's a double-kudos."
UNC Greensboro cut it to as close as nine points in the second half, but Rutgers (5-7) pulled away with strong post play. Judge and junior Kadeem Jack scored eight straight for Rutgers to put it away.
Jack landed a windmill dunk from the foul line to put it away with two minutes left.
"We have two days off then we come to practice with the same energy, same level of competitiveness so we can be prepared for Army next Sunday," Jordan said. "That's a challenge, and again our practices have been pretty darn good and we have to bring that to the game. We can't get gun-shy."