As Rutgers dropped its ninth straight game – winless since its January upset over Wisconsin – a brutal shooting first half from the floor (22 percent) and the free throw line (46 percent) created another irreversible deficit.
“We just have to continue to work on good offense,” said second-year coach Eddie Jordan. “We’re even having problems converting one on oh breaks. We’re missing layups by ourselves. We want to get out in the open floor and we need to convert whenever we get a chance to get out and run.”
The layup Jordan referenced came on a fast break against Purdue, where captain Myles Mack air-balled a fast-break shot as he looked for contact that never came.
The senior remains Rutgers’ brightest star with a team-best 14 points per game, but his days in uniform are numbered and Jordan needs to find scoring elsewhere.
“We don’t shoot the ball very well in practice,” Jordan said. “We work on a lot of shooting. We do a lot of shooting in our warmups throughout the practice and different types of shooting. … We just haven’t been able to make shots.”
The Big Ten presents an obvious challenge for Rutgers, which remains in recovery from an all-time low before Jordan’s arrival. But Jordan will not use the new conference as an excuse after he and his roster saw plenty of talent in the American.
Rutgers (10-16, 2-11) sits last in the Big Ten standings with five games left. The Scarlet Knights rank last in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, defensive rebounding and three-pointers per game.
“It’s a challenge for us to be competitive and to play well,” Jordan said. “I like to tell my team, ‘you have to play well and then down the stretch, you have to play better than well to win games.’ We haven’t been able to do that.
“… They shouldn’t be shell-shocked with the talent or the way that teams play in the Big Ten. It’s just a terrific conference. There are no bottom feeders.”
Rutgers saw strong performances from Kadeem Jack and Bishop Daniels after both bounced back from injuries. Jordan hopes to see the same Thursday against Iowa when senior Malick Kone returns from a two-game absence due to illness.
“You look at that and you say sometimes you have to give your kids some time off to regain their legs and energy and they come back,” Jordan said. “That was part of the thinking of giving them two days off but not two in a row.”