The grind does not get any easier for Rutgers basketball after its Wednesday road loss to No. 14 Maryland. The Scarlet Knights travel to Minnesota for a noon tipoff for their third Big Ten game in a week.
The Golden Gophers approach desperation after five straight losses to open Big Ten play, but the record for Richard Pitino is deceptive. In five conference losses, four came down to the final two possessions.
Rutgers (10-8, 2-3) has the Big Ten on notice after its upset over No. 4 Wisconsin, and has a solid resume away from the RAC with wins against Clemson, Vanderbilt and Manhattan and an upset bid at Maryland.
“We’ve played in those games, so we know what it feels like,” said junior guard Bishop Daniels, who returned to the starting lineup this week. “We’ve played at Nebraska and we’ve played at our RAC where there’s a lot of people. I don’t think it was nerves. I think we just didn’t get it done.”
The junior college transfer is in line for his third straight start after he came off the bench for the majority of non-conference play. Daniels scored 12 points in 25 minutes in the failed upset bid against Maryland.
“We just get back in the gym and focus on the next task at hand,” Daniels said outside the locker room after the 73-65 loss. “We knew what we had coming into [Maryland], and we knew it was going to be tough trying to win a game on the road.
“…I feel like everybody in the Big Ten should be aware of what Rutgers is. It’s going to be a whole lot of games where we put the pressure on them. We’ve got to get it together, but we’ve finally got the notice of a lot of teams.”
A unanimous last-place vote for conference play, Rutgers built confidence with its unexpected start to Big Ten play.
The Scarlet Knights twice wrote notes in the history books in January.
“There’s a lot more basketball to be played,” said senior forward Kadeem Jack, who averages 10.8 points and six rebounds per game in conference play. “Just coming off that win, it’s a big one, but on to the next one. … We did a lot of good things [against Maryland]. We’ve definitely got to build on that and come back against Minnesota.”
In Jordan’s eyes, hit the high-percentage shots and any game is winnable for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers shot 54 percent from the floor against Wisconsin, and 46 percent against Maryland.
Leading scorer Myles Mack shot 40 percent from the floor and 42 percent from beyond the arc against the Badgers and Terrapins.
“You’ve got to make shots, and we haven’t been known to do that,” Jordan said on improvements in the last week. “When we can make shots, we defend well enough … for the most part, we need to score a little bit more.”