Notes: Rivalry, Mitchell's Shooting and more

Rutgers travels to Seton Hall for Tuesday's "Turnpike Tussle," and it will mark the first game in the rivalry for a pair of key Scarlet Knights. Also, forward Jonathan Mitchell is trying to shake off two subpar shooting performance. Is he tiring? Find out about that, the key to defending Pirates leading scorer Jeremy Hazell and Hamady Ndiaye's thoughts on the NBA.

Dane Miller is the three-time defending Big East freshman of the week, and no freshman is playing better or means more to his team than the first-year Rutgers wing.

But his poise, and his ability to elevate his intensity will be tested Tuesday at the Prudential Center, even if he doesn't realize it yet, as the Scarlet Knights travel 29 miles north to face rival Seton Hall.

"This is my first time playing them,'' Miller said, "so it's just going to be a regular game for me.''

Ok.

Of course, that was the same thought process with which Scarlet Knights senior center Hamady Ndiaye entered his first contest against the Pirates. And it lasted until the pre-game lay-up line.

"The crowd will let you know. Once you get to the arena, you realize this is a little different,'' Ndiaye said. "They told me about it my first time and I still didn't realize it until I got into the game and I said, ‘Oh, snap.' ‘'

It is also the first "Turnpike Tussle" for second-leading scorer Jonathan Mitchell, a transfer from Florida whose final two schools were Seton Hall and Rutgers.

He got to experience the rivalry last season as a close bystander as he sat out under NCAA transfer rules.

"I know there's a little tension between Rutgers and Seton Hall,'' Mitchell said. "I know (Seton Hall) coach (Bobby) Gonzalez, and how he feels, and I know (Rutgers) coach (Fred) Hill, and how he feels.''

Mitchell feeling fine
Rutgers power forward Jonathan Mitchell is playing more than he has in his career, and is 3 for 16 from 3-point range in his last two games, but he said fatigue is not a factor for the two off games.

"Connecticut is long, and you have guys running at you,'' Mitchell said. "I think that was part of it.''

Hill doesn't believe Mitchell, who is averaging a team-leading 34.1 minutes per game in 14 Big East games, is suffering from tired legs.

"He's got arc on the shot, and that's a tell-tale sign,'' Hill said. "If you're getting heavy legs, you shoot the ball flat. I don't think that he did. He got good looks and he didn't make it.''

Defending Hazell
It will be intriguing to see if Rutgers uses a zone or man-to-man defense, or a mixture of both, to guard Seton Hall junior Jeremy Hazell, a streaky shooter who is averaging 21.4 points per game.

Hazell is shooting 36.3 percent from 3-point range, but is making 55.6 percent (15 of 27) in his last four games.

"The zone presents a problem because you have to shade him, and it opens up the inside for the big guys,'' Hill said. "So you have to try and pick your poison. What we've always tried to do with great scorers like him is make him work for everything he's going to get, and try to hopefully wear them down so maybe toward the end of the game …you lose some of your legs and don't make the big shots.''

Ndiaye's draft status
Hill said numerous times in the last week he is hearing Ndiaye has played himself into a second-round selection in June's NBA draft, and the 6-foot-11 senior well aware of it.

"At this point of the season I'm kind of paying attention …but I'm just trying to finish the season,'' Ndiaye said. "I'm going to keep working and try to get better and see if I can get higher.'' Ndiaye, who began playing basketball at age 16, is averaging 9.7 points and seven rebounds per game. He is also third nationally with 126 blocked shots.


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