The seniors took over for Rutgers in a major way Friday. Guard Myles Mack and forward Kadeem Jack dominated in Brooklyn, leading the Scarlet Knights to a 68-65 victory over Vanderbilt in the semifinals of the Barclays Center Classic.
The victory comes two days after an ugly 18-point home loss to St. Peter’s.
Mack led Rutgers (3-2) with 21 points with 20 more coming from Jack in his third game back from injury.
Junior center Greg Lewis locked up the game with a block on Vandy’s final possession and tipped in-bounds pass to run out the clock.
“We just worked harder we were smarter,” Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan said in his post-game TV interview. “… Our defense was great in the paint, and we were great overall in the second half. I’m happy about the win.”
The Scarlet Knights have 24 hours for recovery before facing the winner of No. 8 Virginia and LaSalle. They likely do so without starting guard Bishop Daniels, who left early with an injury. Freshman guard Mike Williams, a Brooklyn native, chipped in 11 points with Daniels out.
“We’re on the big stage,” Jordan said on heading to the title game. “It’s good for us. It’s good for our program. It’s good for our kids, they work their butts off.”