Tuesday’s Shootaround: Rutgers needs to thank Dane Miller’s Grandma

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Rutgers 81, Monmouth 66: The Scarlett Knights have struggled this season, and while much of that can be blamed on the youth that inhabits their roster, a hefty portion falls at the feet of Dane Miller. Miller, a junior, is Mike Rice’s most versatile player, but he has struggled to find any kind of rhythm early this season. His scoring is down to 7.0 ppg — from 9.2 ppg each of his first two seasons — and he’s shooting almost half as often.

But Miller has easily his best game of the season as the Scarlett Knights knocked off Monmouth, going for 13 points, 11 boards, seven blocks, four steals and three assists. And to hear him tell it, the performance was all the result of a phone call with his Grandmother that lives in a nursing home:

“She asked me what I was doing and I told her I was getting ready for the game,” Miller told Brendan Prunty of NJ.com after the game. He was in tears during their hour-long conversation. “She said, ‘Well, go ahead and have fun. Play hard and give it everything you have.’ I told her my foot was hurting and she said, ‘Every time your foot hurts, think about me.’ When I heard that, I just broke down.”

“I blacked out. I know I played hard, but Coach (Mike) Rice was talking to me at times in the huddle and I didn’t understand plays, anything. I just blacked out.”

I strongly suggest you go and read Prunty’s gamer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Oregon 79, Portland State 70: In his second game as a member of the Ducks, Devoe Joseph once again played well. He finished with 13 points and six assists as Oregon was able to hold off a late rally by Portland State. EJ Singler added 19 for Dana Altman’s club.

Joseph’s addition couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. With Jabari Brown and Bruce Barron both transferring out of the program, Altman was in need of some back court help. Throw in the fact that in the last three games, Jonathan Loyd has shot just 1-12 from the floor and scored all of four points.

Other notable scores:

– Fordham 74, Siena 59
– Oral Roberts 58, Arkansas-Little Rock 55

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.