Rutgers' 2nd half costly vs. No. 11 Louisville
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) The inconsistency that Rutgers coach Mike Rice feels has hurt his team this season showed up again against No. 11 Louisville.
After staying with the Cardinals for one half, the Scarlet Knights were victimized by a blistering run at the start of the second that sparked Louisville to a 68-48 victory Wednesday night.
"I thought we handled their attack pressure well in the first half," Rice said. "But you can't blink against this team. If you're inconsistent, which my team is, that's a bad sign, because they're going to take advantage of it."
Louisville (19-4, 7-3 Big East) did exactly that.
With the score tied 28-28, Wayne Blackshear, who scored a career-high 19 points, hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 23-2 run that gave Louisville control for the rest of the game.
It was the seventh time they have held an opponent under 50 points this season.
Rutgers trailed 28-26 at halftime and Wally Judge had a thunderous putback slam to rile the crowd and tie the game 42 seconds into the second half.
The Cardinals responded with their big run over the next seven minutes and opened a 51-30 advantage. Judge's dunk had the opposite effect of what Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears was expecting.
"If you asked me, I would have thought after that, we were going to go on the run that they went on," Seagears said. "Sometimes things just don't always go as you plan."
"I don't think anyone would have thought during the course of the game, that we would have gone down by 20," Judge said. "We have to play two complete halves. I don't know what it is, if we're lapsing up or whatever it may be."
Blackshear, who twice scored 18 points this season, broke the tie with a 3-pointer and Siva quickly stretched the lead to six with another long-range shot.
Rutgers, which went 4:07 without a point, saw Blackshear add two free throws to push the lead to 36-28. Chane Behanan made it nine with a free throw and then Smith and Siva had steals in the backcourt to set up two free throws by Smith and a rebound follow by Dieng for a 41-28 advantage.
Austin Johnson ended the drought for Rutgers with an uncontested layup before Louisville scored the next 10 points.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Rutgers was able to play the first half at their pace.
"They play everybody tough," Pitino said. "They led against Cincinnati for 35 minutes and beat Pitt here. I said: `Don't be concerned, have your run.' We made a couple of adjustments on our press and then the guys just showed some tremendous athletic ability."
Louisville led by as many as 25 points in the final minutes.
"No one is getting us out of this funk and this feeling except us," Rice said. "I appreciate the student section coming out strong but no one is getting us out of this funk but the players and staff."
Louisville hurt Rutgers with its backcourt pressure, and the Knights hurt themselves by getting just eight points off 18 offensive rebounds.
"We have to finish," said Judge, who had six offensive rebounds but shot 1 for 6. "There's no other way to put it."
Gorgui Deng added eight rebounds and six blocked shots as the Cards beat Rutgers for the seventh straight time and 11th in 12 meetings.
Rice feels Rutgers need to practice better to gain consistency, but didn't see it over the long break.
"Kind of inconsistent," was how he described the practices. "One day we're great the next day we're so-so."
Updated February 6, 2013