– Piscataway, New Jersey
By Nick Kosko
After a shaky start in the first half, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights found their groove in the second half of a high scoring affair to edge the Central Arkansas Bears.
On a night where Rutgers was looking for a bounce back after a last second defeat to St. Johns on Thursday night, they seemed stumble out of the gate.
At halftime, Rutgers was tied at 38 with UCA and looked as if they would fold in the second half.
Head Coach Eddie Jordan looked toward his best players to lead the team and get on a roll in the second half.
“It was a grind down the stretch but overall our best players played well. We adjusted our defensive scheme and made sure we were up on their three point shooters despite any mismatches,” Jordan said.
Deshawn Freeman was the star as he finished a stellar day with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks as he ignited the team to a solid second half.
Any time he drove inside the paint, Freeman was able to out maneuver and over match Central Arkansas defenders for easy layups.
Freeman’s huge blocks during the game brought loud ovations from the crowd and knocked away any momentum UCA was trying to build.
“Freeman will get better and he has been improving each game. I am really happy about him after tonight. His leadership was huge tonight in the closing moments,” Jordan said.
Other standouts from the game were featured in Mike Williams and freshman sensation Corey Sanders. Williams finished with 25 points and 4 rebounds including 5 three pointers on the night.
Getting hot from behind the arc was huge for Rutgers as they needed to counter Central Arkansas’ Jordan Howard as he finished with 19 points with 5 three pointers of his own.
“Mike Williams has worked his butt off to finally get that type of performance. He doesn’t pull any excuses and is truly a wonderful young man,” Jordan said.
Sanders, who played well defensively all night, turned it up offensively in the second half as he finished with 14 points.
In the first half, Sanders pulled off an electrifying dunk off a steal by his teammates and seemed to bring the crowd back into the game.
“We want to bring this to Vegas. It was a good team win tonight and we just need to carry that momentum going forward,” Sanders said.
Rutgers will take on Creighton in their next contest when they play at a neutral site in Las Vegas on Monday.
“Every win gives you confidence especially after that St. Johns game. We are focused on the next game and hopefully our good players keep doing good things,” Jordan said.
The Scarlet Knights head out to Las Vegas, Nevada for their next two games as a participant in The Men Who Speak Up Main Event Tournament. Rutgers will face Creighton on Monday Night with tipoff set for 12AM ET.
WRSU will have all of your coverage for this tournament with the Rutgers Men’s Basketball Pregame Show set for 11:30PM ET on Monday, November 23rd. Make sure to tune into 88.7 FM locally or stream online at radio.rutgers.edu.