Rutgers has plenty of excuses available but it does not make the Wednesday blowout loss to No. 3 Maryland any less painful for Eddie Jordan and his struggling program.
All Jordan could do after its conclusion is thank Mark Turgeon for pulling his starters in an 88-63 loss.
“Obviously our team is depleted because of injuries, undersized,” Jordan said. “Our spirit was 100 percent and our competitive nature was 100 percent. We played a little smarter in the second half. I appreciate Mark and understanding where we are. In a good sense, he pulled back the hounds a little bit.”
The only two healthy post players – Greg Lewis and D.J. Foreman – both went into halftime with three fouls and Rutgers never recovered in the post. Maryland led by as many as 42 points before the walk-ons entered for Turgeon.
Outside of an alley-oop dunk by Corey Sanders and a fast-break slam for Foreman, Rutgers offered few positives in a loss that mirrored the George Washington game in non-competitiveness.
Sanders expects to return to the starting rotation after a team-high 16 points. Senior guard Bishop Daniels scored 11 and grabbed 10 boards for a double-double.
“I’m just going with the flow,” Sanders said on his second straight game off the bench. “I’m not really too worried about it. I think, today, I earned my spot back. Coach just wants to make sure I was doing everything right. That was just a little wake-up call.”
Rutgers (6-10) receives one of its best Big Ten opportunities Saturday against Nebraska (8-8, 0-3). Jonathan Laurent could return from a mild concussion after a week’s rest. Junior DeShawn Freeman likely remains out after the medical re-evaluated his knee Wednesday.
“You have to stay encouraged and you have to have some type of comradarie, especially with the older guys,” said senior Omari Grier, who scored 13 points. “It’s good for the younger guys to get this at a younger age with them being freshmen, … it’s a good teaching moment to tell those guys, especially preparing for next year.”