Sunday's loss to Cincinnati continued a trend for the Scarlet Knights. Unfortunately, it wasn't one coach Gary Waters was hoping for.
In the previous three games, Rutgers had done a solid job stopping the team's top offensive threat, but fell victim to the supporting cast. Rutgers gave up 28 points to Kyle Lowry, 14 to Levon Kendell, and 24 to Draelon Burns, losing two of the three games.
Against the Bearcats, Rutgers held leading scorer James White to 13 points, more than four under his average. But it had no answers for the diminutive Devan Downey, whose 21 points proved the difference in a 71-66 defeat.
Rutgers now enters the week 2-3, somewhere between the middle of the pack and the danger zone of the bottom four. It's a pivotal time for the Scarlet Knights, with home games against Providence and Louisville on tap.
Both teams sit below Rutgers in the standings now, but Providence is coming off its first Big East win of the season and Louisville, after all, is just a year removed from its Final Four trip. A pair of wins and the team can start mapping out the path to a potential NCAA Tournament bid. But a pair of losses would be all but fatal, and would bring the dreaded danger of a missed invitation to the Big East tournament.
Notes and Quotes
--Junior center Byron Joynes had 10 of his season-high 11 rebounds in the first half but was forced to leave the game in the second half. He was slowed by an ankle injury he suffered in the first stanza.
--Center Jimmie Inglis played a career game against Cincinnati Sunday. He scored a career-high 16 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting and tied a career-high with eight rebounds. He was the only reserve to score, however.
--Junior power forward Adrian Hill did not play Sunday after tweaking his surgically-repaired knee one game earlier. Hill missed all of last season after having reconstructive knee surgery.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You need to write this. You need to tell the Big East this: (Marquis Webb) is the best defender in the Big East. Everybody he plays against he shuts down." -- Rutgers coach Gary Waters on F Marquis Webb in the Newark Star-Ledger.
Pittsburgh 76, Rutgers 68
Cincinnati 71, Rutgers 66
vs. Providence, Wednesday, Jan. 25.
vs. Louisville, Saturday, Jan. 28.
at Syracuse, Wednesday, Feb. 1.
at Seton Hall, Sunday, Feb. 5.
KEYS: In Chinese, the term "chaos" is a combination of the signs for "danger" and "opportunity." That's what the Scarlet Knights need to create for their opponents on defense, as they enter a dangerous portion of their schedule that also brings the opportunity to rise to the top half of the league standings.
--C Byron Joynes had a tough pair of games on the offensive ends for Rutgers last week, going scoreless in 26 minutes against Pittsburgh and managing just two points in 19 minutes against Cincinnati.