After dismantling St. Johns Red Storm Tuesday night, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-11, 2-8) look to make it three Big East victories in a row against the Louisville Cardinals (14-8, 5-4) at Freedom Hall Saturday afternoon.
Rutgers started off the Big East schedule a horrific 0-8, but after two wins at the RAC against Notre Dame and St. Johns, things are starting to click for the Scarlet Knights.
The past two wins you can thank in large part to senior Hamady Ndiaye and sophomore Mike Rosario . Ndiaye nearly recorded a triple double against St. Johns with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks. His nine blocks were a school record in a Big East game.
Rosario, on the other hand, has been shooting lights out from all over the court. During the last two victories Rosario has combined for 57 points on 21 of 37 (56.8 percent) shooting, seven of 13 (53.8 percent) from behind the three-point line, and eight of nine (89 percent) from the charity stripe.
Jonathan Mitchell also found his shooting stroke against St. Johns hitting four 3-pointers to kick in 18 points for Rutgers.
Rick Pitino, head coach of Louisville, had this say about the Scarlet Knights, “we are playing against Rutgers who’s coming off two victories and two well played games beating Notre Dame at home and then beating St. Johns…a rival…in a rival game.
"They are getting great play out of their guard Rosario, they’re getting great play out of their seven foot center (Ndiaye), Mitchell is playing extremely well, Miller is playing extremely well…so right now Rutgers is playing good basketball at the present time.”
Louisville started the month of February on a good note defeating the University of Connecticut last Monday night, 82-69. The Cardinals smothering defense forced the Huskies to turn the ball over seventeen times leading to easy baskets and putting the game out of reach for UConn.
When asked about what improvements Mike Rosario has made from last season to this year, Pitino answered, “He’s just a year wiser, he doesn’t force as many shots, he’s got good size, he has a quick release, he gets to the basket, like Edgar, he’s very savvy around the rim.”
The Scarlet Knights are an abysmal 0-6 away from the RAC and if they want to continue this winning streak they must cut down on some of the mistakes they have been making. They turned the ball over sixteen times against St. Johns and also gave up 11 offensive rebounds, most of which, almost led to second chance opportunities for the Red Storm. Those blunders are just not going to be acceptable at Freedom Hall on Saturday.
Hamady Ndiaye going up against the bruising duo of Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings is going to give Rutgers a lot of trouble underneath the rim. Ndiaye will need tons of help near the basket if Rutgers wants to have any chance.
James Beatty and Rosario must stay in front of the Cardinals quick guards Sosa and Smith. After Louisville’s game against UConn on Monday, the Huskies interim coach George Blaney explained that the Cardinals guards’ ability to penetrate and get the ball to open men in the corners gave his team too much trouble.
Statistic Leaders for Each Team:
Scoring: Mike Rosario (Rutgers): 16.7 PTS/GM; Samardo Samuels (Louisville): 15.7 PTS/GM
Rebounds: Hamady Ndiaye (Rutgers): 6.5 REB/GM; Samardo Samuels (Louisville): 7.3 REB/GM
Assists: Mike Coburn (Rutgers): 3.6 AST/GM; Edgar Sosa (Louisville): 4.0 AST/GM
Steals: James Beatty (Rutgers): 1.4 STL/GM; 2 Tied (Louisville): 1.3 STL/GM
Blocks: Hamady Ndiaye (Rutgers): 4.9 BLK/GM; 2 Tied (Louisville): 1.2 BLK/GM
Facts about the Teams:
Last season, during their only meeting of the year, Louisville defeated Rutgers, 78-59.
The Scarlet Knights last victory against Louisville came on January 28, 2006.
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