Players like Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack have seen losing streaks before the current seven-game skid. But for the newcomers to the Rutgers locker room, January was as rough as it gets, and February does not get any easier.
Home after back-to-back road losses, Rutgers faces its second biggest challenge of the year to date in No. 20 Ohio State (17-6, 6-4) and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate D’Angelo Russell.
“I’ve never really been through this before, so it’s kind of tough,” said junior guard Bishop Daniels. “I’m just trying to stay motivated. I want to figure out how to do things right. It’s not like this is over. We can still go into the tournament and surprise some people and make it somewhere. We’re trying to find the right pieces and make a run. We’re not giving up.”
With Ohio State as its second ranked foe at home in 2015, Rutgers (10-14, 2-9) draws from its last game – an upset over No. 4 Wisconsin and the last win for the program.
“The main thing is don’t be frustrated,” Daniels said. “It happens. The season is far from over. Stay motivated and help everybody else where you can. Ohio State is a big game, especially for us. We’re hungry for a win, and this is a sold-out home game. How could you not get up for this?”
Rutgers sold out its general admission tickets one week in advance, and hosts one of the top young players in the country.
Russell, a top-tier guard, enters today’s tipoff at 19.7 points per game to go along with 5.7 boards and 5.2 assists.
“I’m very excited for it,” said senior guard Myles Mack, who leads Rutgers in scoring, assists, three-pointer and steals heading into his 100th career start. “I’ve seen a lot from him. He’s just a great basketball player, and that’s the kind of player I like to face.”
Coach Eddie Jordan could have Williams back in the rotation today after he was full-go in Friday afternoon’s practice.
“He’s coming along really well,” Jordan said. “He had two live practices, including [Friday]. He gets another overnight to see how he responds. … Hopefully we’ll get some time on Sunday.”
Williams is fifth on the roster in scoring with 6.9 points per game and 11 starts. The freshman from Brooklyn emerged early as one of the Scarlet Knights’ top perimeter defenders, which becomes key this evening against Russell and the Buckeyes.