Kadeem Jack

Kadeem Jack, Myles Mack

Seniors Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack lead Rutgers past No. 4 Wisconsin

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Even with Frank Kaminsky ruled out for Sunday’s game at Rutgers, the general consensus was that No. 4 Wisconsin had enough to take care of business and remain undefeated in Big Ten play. And through 20 minutes that assumption looked to be accurate, with the Badgers taking a 35-23 lead into the half after shooting nearly 47 percent from the field and making six more field goals (15-9) than the Scarlet Knights.

During one stretch Wisconsin made five straight field goals, going on a 12-4 run to expand their lead to 12 points with 6:13 remaining in the half.

But things changes in the second half, with Rutgers seniors Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack taking over and the Badgers losing point guard Traevon Jackson to a right foot injury. Final score: Rutgers 67, Wisconsin 62 with the Badgers being the highest-ranked team the Scarlet Knights have ever beaten, surpassing Rutgers’ win over No. 6 West Virginia in 1982.

While many will point to the absence of Kaminsky and Jackson’s injury as the reasons why Rutgers won, thus meaning that this shouldn’t be considered an upset, keep in mind that Rutgers had already lost home games to Northwestern, Saint Francis (PA) and Saint Peter’s prior to Sunday. Eddie Jordan’s team did have a conference win under its belt, as they beat Penn State, but this is quite the boost for a program that truly needed it in their first season as a member of the Big Ten.

Mack, who shot 4-for-5 from three and scored 19 points in the second half, finished with 21 and Jack added 20 as he thoroughly outplayed Sam Dekker. Dekker finished the game with just four points and two rebounds, an outing the Badgers could not afford given how shorthanded they were. Nigel Hayes led the way with 15 points and ten rebounds, but as a team Wisconsin looked lost at times offensively with Jackson in the locker room being attended to.

But even with the impact of Jackson’s injury, Rutgers deserves credit for not allowing the visitors to get back into the groove they were in during the first half.

By comparison Rutgers shot 66.7% from the field in the second half, scoring 44 points in what represents the highest-scoring half the Badgers have allowed since No. 2 Duke scored 45 in the second half of their 80-70 win in Madison on December 3.

Being shorthanded certainly didn’t help Wisconsin’s cause Sunday night. But the same can be said for their inability to slow down Rutgers after keeping them in check (relatively speaking, as Rutgers shot 41 percent) for most of the first half. As a result, Eddie Jordan’s program has its first major win as a member of the Big Ten.

Rutgers’ Kadeem Jack scores 13 points in first action of the season

Kadeem Jack, Chris Hooper, Antonio Jenifer
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Last Sunday, Rutgers fell at home to George Washington in a game that went about as expected by many. The Colonials are coming off of a 2013-14 season in which they reached the NCAA tournament, and the Scarlet Knights are in the midst of a rebuilding project while also making the move to the Big Ten.

Also working against Rutgers that night was the fact that Kadeem Jack, who is the team’s best front court player, was out with a thumb injury. Jack made his 2014-15 regular season debut Sunday night and Rutgers needed him, as he accounted for 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in the Scarlet Knights’ 76-73 win over St. Francis-Brooklyn.

Jack was one of three Rutgers players to finish in double figures, with senior guard Myles Mack scoring 25 points to go along with eight steals and six rebounds to lead the way. The return of Mack helps the entire front court, as Junior Etou (12 points) and freshman D.J. Foreman can slide into supplementary roles on offense. Foreman, who played well in the loss to George Washington, scored eight points in 12 minutes off the bench Sunday night.

Rutgers doesn’t have the depth they would like, as two freshmen were declared partial qualifiers by the NCAA prior to the start of the season, and that will most likely be an issue in Big Ten play. That, along with the skill he provides, is what makes Kadeem Jack’s return so important for Rutgers moving forward.

Report: Rutgers junior forward suffers sprained thumb

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Kadeem Jack and Villanova Wildcats Mouphtaou Yarou battle for a rebound during their NCAA men's championship basketball game at the 2012 Big East Tournament in New York
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Rutgers received some bad news late this week when junior 6-foot-9 forward Kadeem Jack fell on his hand in practice and sprained his thumb, according to a report from Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press.

“We’re being very cautious with it,” Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said to Carino. “He’s mature. He understand the healing process and that he has to be disciplined.”

Jack has been one of the most productive power forwards the Scarlet Knights have seen in years as he averaged 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He’ll likely miss the Rutgers exhibition game, and he could take a bit to heal this injury. That might mean missing some time in the regular season.

In the meantime, Carino mentions in this story that Jack has still been working out at the RAC trying to make his left hand better, even though he’s in a cast.

The upperclassman clearly wants to be a difference-maker in the Big Ten after last season’s breakthrough in the American.