Jack, Rutgers hold off Penn State for 50-46 win
PISCATWAY, N.J. (AP) While Kadeem Jack was re-asserting himself as a key part of Rutgers offense, the Scarlet Knights were taking away the biggest part of Penn State's attack.
Jack, coming off his worst game of the season after being benched at the start for disciplinary reasons, bounced back with 12 points and 11 rebounds to help Rutgers hold off Penn State for a 50-46 win Saturday night.
''I think (tonight) was real big,'' said Jack, who shot 0-for-8 with just two points and four rebounds in a loss to Northwestern. ''I was just thinking about mistakes I made last game. I felt like I had to come out here and play real hard.''
Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan and Jack stood arm in arm during the national anthem, but Jack said that was nothing more symbolic than him getting ready for the game.
Myles Mack had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (9-6, 1-1 Big Ten), who gained their first Big Ten victory since joining the conference this season.
D.J. Newbill scored 14 for the Nittany Lions (12-3, 0-2), who have dropped two straight. It was the second-lowest scoring output this season for Newbill, who entered the game with Big Ten-leading 21.9 average but shot just 4 for 17 with several misses coming on drives to the basket.
''They sped him up a little bit, and did a good job meeting him at the rim,'' said Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, whose team was held to its lowest scoring output of the season. ''It's always tough when you don't make outside shots, they know he's gonna drive it.''
Rutgers led the entire game and had its biggest advantage at 30-16 near the end of the first half. Penn State got within one twice, at 45-44 and 47-46. Mack hit two foul shots to put Rutgers up 49-46 with 27.0 to play.
Newbill missed a 3-pointer and Jack was fouled on the rebound. He made 1 of 2 free throws with 9.8 seconds remaining to clinch it.
''He had a high-motor,'' Jordan said of Jack. ''When he's high-motor, we know what he can do. This was a terrific game for him, (but) he gets more than 11 if he makes more than half his free throws. But his effort, his extension going for offensive rebounds, his knack of getting offensive rebounds; it was just effort, effort, effort. High motor.''
Jack collected seven points and seven boards in the first half when the Scarlet Knights took a 30-19 halftime lead. They allowed their lowest amount of points in one half this season while Penn State scored its fewest in one half. The Nittany Lions shot just 19.2 percent in the half, making only 5 of 26 field goals, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
The Knights offense struggled in the second half as they shot just 4 for 25 overall and 11 for 19 from the foul line. Penn State could not make a run as Rutgers continued to harass Newbill.
Jordan said Rutgers wasn't going to change its strategy as long as it was working.
''We had different back-up plans in case he (Newbill) got going, but we said `Let's stay with what's good for us,'' Jordan said. ''We took shots out of his hands and they had other people take threes to try to score for them. He's a good player.''
Penn State: The Nittany Lions bench came into the game averaging 22 points but scored only 12.The Lions shot 28.8 percent for the game and were 5 of 27 from 3-point range while being out-rebounded 44-36.
Rutgers: After grabbing 12 rebounds against St. Francis to put his season average at 7.4, Jack had a total of 11 in his next three games before his big effort against the Lions. The Scarlet Knights trail the series, 37-30, but are 13-11 against the Lions in conference play. The previous 23 meetings were as members of the Atlantic 10.
Jordan low keyed the fact that it was Rutgers first Big Ten win in program history. ''If you expect to win, it's like anything else,'' he said. ''I guess it will hit me in the morning. Usually it means more in the morning when you wake up. Right now, I'm happy for the kids and happy for the program. We expect to win, and we just hope to keep it going.''
Rutgers visits Nebraska Thursday.
Penn State hosts Michigan Tuesday in its Big Ten home opener