That left the team at 1-3 a quarter of the way through the Big East schedule, right in the mix with a jumble of other teams fighting for 12th place in the league. It's early enough that anything can change in a week, and Rutgers doesn't have a very challenging conference slate. It doesn't play Pitt all year, and plays West Virginia only once this season.
But home games against teams like DePaul that didn't come close to the NCAA Tournament last year and tend to have problems scoring points are the games teams like Rutgers have to win to feel good about themselves, especially at home. The Blue Demons aren't anywhere close to being among the most talented teams in the Big East, but they outwork opponents to death on the glass and on defense.
Traditionally, that's been Rutgers' recipe as well. But that effort was sorely lacking against DePaul, and if it doesn't show up again very soon, Rutgers could easily start a free-fall to the bottom of the Big East.
Notes and Quotes
-- Rutgers came very close to setting a dubious Big East record against DePaul. Its 37points was one off the record for futility in conference history.
--For more than 39 minutes, it looked like Rutgers wouldn't have a double-figure scorer against DePaul. JR Inman finally knocked down a free throw to earn his 10th point with 31.9 seconds left in the game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They beat us to just about every loose ball... and that's something that we just can't stand for. We have to get on top of every loose ball and play hard. And I don't think we did those things tonight." -- Rutgers guard Anthony Farmer told the Newark Star-Ledger after the loss to DePaul.
Fred Hill has settled into an eight-man rotation, with Ollie Bailey winning the backup forward position. That means guys like Frank Russell and Shayle Keating will likely continue to struggle for minutes off the bench.
Rutgers 54, Cincinnati 42
Syracuse 68, Rutgers 58
DePaul 60, Rutgers 37
vs. Georgetown, Wednesday, Jan. 17.
at Providence, Saturday, Jan. 20.
at South Florida, Wednesday, Jan. 24.
KEYS: While the 37 points against DePaul was a new low, the Scarlet Knights had only managed 58 and 54 over the previous two games. That's not going to cut it in Big East play.
-- Senior F Adrien Hill was the only player to make more than half of his shots against DePaul, going 3-5 from the field and finishing with eight points. He also suffered a twisted ankle, a cut eyelid, and a bruised nose.
--Senior C Byron Joynes still hasn't played this season as he recovers from a broken bone in his right foot. Joynes will sit out the season as a medical redshirt and come back next season.
--Freshman C Hamady N'diaye took a hard fall against DePaul, remaining on the floor for several minutes after falling on his back going for a rebound. He left the court under his own power, however, and came back into the game a few minutes later.