Kone Earning Bigger Role

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers junior Malick Kone made the most of his bonus minutes Thursday in the 64-59 loss to No. 22 Memphis. Setting a career-high for time on the court, Kone continues to earn the trust of coach Eddie Jordan and his teammates.

Effort has never been an issue for junior forward Malick Kone, who was the biggest winner in Eddie Jordan's roster shakeups against Memphis. Jordan stuck with the same five players to for the last 10 minutes of the 64-59 loss to send a message.

The message to Kone, who logged a career-high 29 minutes, was to keep doing what he is doing.

"I always hustle, but it paid off," Kone said. "I go for the rebounds and the steals. I think we should always go for those. Every time, I will try to do those little things – passing, rebounding, talking to my teammates, being focused."

Kone logged a solid 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. He played a key defensive role in the closing 10 minutes of the second half, where Rutgers out-scored No. 22 Memphis 20-15.

Kone averages just 10 minutes and 2.7 points per game over his Rutgers career. It was his second time as a Scarlet Knight to hit double digits in points.

"I'm very happy that he (coach Eddie Jordan) trusts me," Kone said. "He can talk to me. I'm very excited for the next game, because it's hard for a player to prove yourself in five minutes, 10 minutes. You play more, you get more confidence."

Jordan went with an adjusted rotation to send a message about trust, he told reporters after the Thursday night loss to Memphis. Kone was one of five to benefit significantly from the decision.

"He's solid," Jordan said. "He defensive multiple positions. He's really a team-first kind of guy. He was very valuable to us defensively and he did some nice things for us offensively. He knows he's an opportunistic type of scorer. I like his confidence. His confidence is the key. If he has the confidence, he can do good things for us."

The vote of confidence from Jordan has Kone eager for the final stretch of the season.

"I play my own role," Kone said. "I always play hard. Every time I do my best, like today. I told my teammates that we have to go hard because we lost very badly the last time we played Memphis. This is our house, so we need to protect our house.

"… We should win [against Memphis]. Before the game, I told my teammates, we need to trust each other and maybe we can win today. I think we tried. We did our best."


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