PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers got away with it against St. John’s, but Elijah Carter’s cold streak continued against Cincinnati and the Scarlet Knights could not make up for his struggles.
Carter was as off as he has ever been in a Rutgers uniform and the rest of the Rutgers offense was no more effective in a 68-58 loss to the 21st ranked Bearcats.
“The first half we let them dig [us] in a hole we couldn’t fight out of no matter how hard we tried,” said junior forward Wally Judge. “The second half, we let them control the game.”
Carter, who leads Rutgers in scoring with 16.9 points per game to start the night, did not make his first field goal until the final 46 seconds of the game. The sophomore guard shot 1-for-11 from the floor and is shooting 16 percent in two games this week.
“He’s settling,” said coach Mike Rice on Carter’s struggles. “When you’re a leading scorer and you are off, and he is, he’s got to get to the paint and create contact or create opportunities for others and he’s not doing that right now. … It’s hard because he realizes he needs to score for us, but right now he’s taking low percentage shots and not getting fouled.”
The rest of the offense did not fare much better.
Rutgers scored a season-low 15 points in the first half with Mack being the lone scorer to reach double figures. The Scarlet Knights shot 38 percent as a team.
Senior Austin Johnson was the lone bright spot offensively. Averaging 10 points per game when coming off the bench, Johnson posted eight points in eight minutes.
Mack led Rutgers with points, but half of his scoring came with the game already decided.
Rutgers (11-4, 2-2) had eyes on cracking the 30s in RPI with a win, but instead are back at .500 in Big East play.
The Scarlet Knights now have five days to rediscover their offense before South Florida comes to the RAC Thursday night.
“We have to learn from this because we’re going to be in this spot again,” Rice said. “Taking the next step forward, we have to learn.”