Jack's Stock Up after Strong Road Trip

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers captain Kadeem Jack put up a career-high 31 points his last time on the court. But the junior forward has his mind on the last time Rutgers played SMU, which ended in an ugly 70-56 loss. A day late because of snow postponement, Jack and Rutgers host No. 23 SMU and coach Larry Brown tonight at the RAC.

What has gotten into Kadeem Jack? When talking to Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan, it starts with the fact that Jack wants to be there.

Jack, alongside fellow captain Myles Mack, was a ringleader in keeping Rutgers together during a tumultuous offseason. The passion Jack showed then, is paying off now with a stellar stretch.

Jack put up a career-high 31 points his last time on the court. Tonight against No. 23 SMU, he will be a go-to piece of the offense.

"First of all, they were the ones that wanted to stay when everyone was bailing ship," Jordan said on Mack and Jack. "That shows their dedication, their' loyalty and their intent on a lot of pride and playing for their school. That's No. 1. They've been very coachable and they're a delight to coach, actually.

"They've had some ups and downs, but again, it's the first year. It's a new system, new coach, new team and they've handled it very well."

Jack scored his career-high 31 points with a perfect night from the free throw line. He made all 13 of his attempts, and shot 64 percent from the floor. As Jordan explained, he simply made his shots this time

"That was basically it and I think guys kept feeding me," Jack said on building confidence. "A lot of guys kept passing up shots to get me open shots.

"…I think it was really big because I don't think we've had a win on the road like that in a long time – not this season definitely and probably not last season. It was good."

USF was the last team to beat No. 23 SMU. Since the loss, however, the Mustangs and coach Larry Brown are on a hot streak. SMU blew out top-10 team Cincinnati Saturday night.

The snow-delayed game tonight at the RAC is a rematch from an ugly 70-56 loss for Rutgers in Dallas last month.

"I think we're more prepared," Jack said. "We understand, going in, what happened last time. I think this time around, we're going to try to get them back.

"… They played much more physical than us. I think we came out kind of not expecting that. We know it's going to be a dog fight, a physical game."

Rutgers (10-14, 4-7) has just seven games left to make a push for a .500 finish at first-round bye in conference play. The top six teams earn a bye in Memphis, Tenn., next month with Rutgers holding the last spot going into a brutal three-game stretch – SMU, Louisville and Memphis.

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