Mike Coburn, Impressive as a Freshman

Freshman guard Mike Coburn was named Big East Rookie of the Week after averaging 20 points and four assists in Rutgers' two big wins against No. 18 Villanova and No. 13 Pitt. He continued to play well in a home loss against Seton Hall tying a career high with 23 points and setting a career high in rebounds with nine.

It's been a big week for freshman guard Mike Coburn as he's stepped up his game and become a leader on the court for the young Scarlet Knights.

After starting off Big East play on a six game losing streak, Rutgers rattled off two impressive victories against No. 18 Villanova at home and No. 13 Pittsburgh on the road. It was only the second time in the program's history that they knocked off nationally ranked teams back to back, and Pitt was the highest ranked team they have ever beaten on the road.

Coburn played a major role in those two victories, with a career high 23 points against the Wildcats and 17 to go with five assists against the Panthers. He was also 5-5 from behind the arc in those two games and his spectacular play earned him Big East Rookie of the Week honors.

"It feels pretty good," Coburn said of the achievement. "I've been having some pretty good games and I just credit my teammates for finding me. The confidence is there and shots are falling."

To show that the honor was no fluke, Coburn continued to stay hot scoring 23 points, which tied his career high against Seton Hall in a loss last night. For the game, he shot 7-14 from the field, 3-4 from three point range, and set a career high in rebounds with nine.

"I started getting my shot off and it was falling," Coburn said. "I'm glad my team is finding me out there and I was able to get my shots down."

It was the second half when Coburn started to shine with 16 points and was a catalyst in Rutgers' second half run. Rutgers outscored Seton Hall 12-6 in the last 4:12 of the second half and Coburn accounted for six of those points.

With 3:44 left, Coburn missed a layup, but got his own rebound and put it back up to cut the deficit to four at 61-57. He would then go 4-4 from the foul line during the run with the second set of shots again cutting the deficit to four at 67-61. After a Seton Hall basket, Rutgers would go on a 6-0 run that sent the game into the extra period. The over 6,500 roaring fans in attendance played a big role in the comeback he said.

"I'm so happy everyone showed up," Coburn said. "We had a great attendance and they did a good job cheering us on as we came back and sent it into overtime. They helped us a great deal today."

Playing against tough opponents isn't a new phenomenon for the New York native. He played five years of varsity basketball for basketball powerhouse Mt. Vernon High School starting in the eight grade. Coburn also traveled with his team over the summer to China for a 10-day tour that featured three exhibition games.

"It was great for me to get the experience, play with some tough guys and I had a great time," Coburn said.

Coburn is apart of a new beginning at Rutgers. He and Corey Chandler are a freshman guard tandem that will be making a major impact on the Big East the next couple of years. Chandler is regarded as one of the best players and came into the Seton Hall contest averaging 12.5 points per game. Coburn said having a talent like Chandler around is helpful to him and that he will only get better as time goes on.

"Its been great having him there," Coburn said. "He's a great player that's doing great things and we will continue to build."

Coburn was the leading scorer tonight with Chandler right behind him with 16 points of his own.

"Mike Coburn and Corey Chandler showed a lot of maturity and leadership," Rutgers Head Coach Fred Hill said. "They led the team and made plays in the second half to help us come back. That's a great step forward for those kids."

As it continues to inch closer to March, Coburn said the team needs to go all out for the rest of the season if they want to make a serious run at a tournament berth.

"Its deep into the season and its time to step up," he said.

Rutgers will have a chance to set up as they take on Louisville on the road on Saturday at 3 p.m. on MSG.

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