Challenging Week Awaits Scarlet Knights

Rutgers basketball takes the next step in conference play this week with its first Big Ten road game, and a home challenge against No. 4 Wisconsin. Head coach Eddie Jordan offered his thoughts on the challenging week ahead and what went right in a 1-1 home stand against Northwestern and Penn State during the weekly Big Ten teleconference.

Picked last in Big Ten preseason voting, Rutgers basketball already sent its first salvo in a 50-46 victory over Penn State.

Step two comes this week with a road trip to Nebraska and the toughest game to date – hosting No. 4 Wisconsin Sunday at the RAC.

“It’s a whole lot of things involved when Wisconsin comes in,” said head coach Eddie Jordan. “Obviously we have to be prepared. I’ve watched a few of their games already, especially the one against Penn State. They just play basketball. They’ve got good size, great skill players. It’s just our environment and our players that’s going to be important to us. That’s why we’re in the Big Ten.”

Rutgers fans packed it in Saturday against Penn State, and Jordan hopes for the same Sunday against the Badgers (14-1, 2-0). He joked that special facility changes awaited the No. 4 team in the country.

“I think we’re going to give them a cold locker room, cold showers and … No, look. It’s going to be tough,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be a wonderful atmosphere, I would hope and I would think here at the RAC. When I was coaching here with Bob Wenzel, we’ve had some top two or three teams in the country come in here and the fans love it. We packed it in. They’re loud.”

Before Wisconsin, Rutgers (9-6, 1-1) travels to Nebraska (8-5, 0-1) for its first road game in Big Ten conference play.

The Huskers face Iowa Monday night after a New Year’s Eve loss to Indiana and host the Scarlet Knights Thursday.

“I certainly won’t tell them it’s tough because they’re going to believe it,” Jordan said on Big Ten road games. “I’ll tell them we’re going to have some fun competing, working hard. It’s going to be a wonderful basketball environment. It’s going to be an environment we all look forward to playing in.”

Rutgers gave a bipolar start to the season with wins over Clemson and Vanderbilt and losses to the likes of St. Peter’s and St. Francis (Pa.).

Rutgers lost to Northwestern following a benching of Kadeem Jack, and bounced back against Penn State with perimeter defense as the key.

“I like where we are,” Jordan said. “I like our progression. I like our improvements at the defensive end. We are, as another coach would put it, offensively challenged most games. For the most part, our defense has held us to pretty good position where we can compete and be in games.”

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