A career 18 percent three-point shooter averaging 10 minutes per game, drilled multiple key jumpers in 22 stellar minutes. The best game of the year by Kone happened with perfect timing in a 67-62 upset over No. 4 Wisconsin.
Whatever Kone’s numbers indicated, he and his teammates believed in him Sunday.
“First off, I want to thank my teammates for passing me the ball, trusting me in the offense,” Kone said. “I told Myles [Mack], ‘that big three, I’m going to be ready for it.’ Just pass me the ball in the corner. My man went to help and I’m going to make it, and I did.”
Kone knocked down all three of his shots against the Badgers, and supplemented Mack with lock-down perimeter defense in the final minutes. He chipped in three assists and three boards in a season-high 22 minutes.
“This is great for [Eddie Jordan] and especially the program and for recruiting and stuff,” Kone said. “I feel like that’s going to help. … I wish we could have this a lot. It’s fun.”
Both of Kone’s second-half jumpers – a corner three- pointer in front of the Rutgers bench and a mid-range shot from the top of the key – cut Wisconsin’s lead to one possession.
Kone matched up defensively with junior Sam Dekker, who scored 15 points but missed all four of his long-range shots.
“When I was sitting on the bench, I was thinking about how [Dekker] is going to the NBA,” Kone said. “It is a big challenge for me to play defense on him. I was like, ‘when I get in, I’m going to play defense on him. I’m not going to let him get the ball inside.’ As soon as he gets the ball inside, it’s hard to stop him.”
A former Mike Rice recruit, Kone almost did not return during the coaching change. Interim head coach David Cox granted Kone his transfer release.
Jordan quickly met with Kone after reaching terms with interim athletic director Carl Kirschner as Rutgers’ new head coach.
“I feel like this is the first game where we win, and I’m so happy and proud,” Kone said. “You know I’ve been here, I’m not playing, I’ve been through injuries like this summer I had a groin injury. I’m so happy I’m back now to help my team to win.”