Rutgers hands Vanderbilt first loss, 68-65


NEW YORK (AP) — Myles Mack had a severe toothache. Kadeem Jack was recuperating from a sprained right thumb.

The prescription, according to Rutgers Eddie Jordan, was a win.

Mack scored 10 of his 21 points in the second half, and Jack added 20 points and eight rebounds to lead Rutgers to a 68-65 win over Vanderbilt in the first semifinal of the Barclays Center Classic Friday night.

“Both of these guys are battling some physical issues,” Jordan said. “Myles had a serious toothache all day today, probably still has it. We had to rush him to the dentist and Kadeem is still recovering from his thumb and his conditioning. So what they did today was remarkable.”

Mike Williams and Junior Etou had 11 and 10 for the Scarlet Knights (3-2), who bounced back from a 68-50 loss to St. Peter’s Tuesday night.

“That loss was a bad loss for us,” Mack said. “The next day in practice we came in really excited to practice, ready to get better.

“I think it led over to this game and I think we played well as a team.”

Vanderbilt (4-1) lost for the first time in the 2014-15 campaign. Damian Jones led the Commodores with 23 points. Luke Kornet had 14 points and James Siakam added 10.

“We’re disappointed,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.

The Commodores had three chances to win late in regulation, but Shelton Mitchell missed a driving layup and Siakam couldn’t convert the putback. Following an inbounds, Mitchell had the ball stolen by Mack, who was fouled by Matthew Fisher-Davis. Mack made one of two free throws, and Rutgers knocked away the inbounds pass to seal the win.

“We talked about several things we did not accomplish,” Stallings said. “We came out of timeouts on four occasions where we made a call and messed it up. That shouldn’t be the case. We didn’t play well enough to win.

“That is my biggest source of disappointment.”

The first ever matchup between the SEC and Big 10 programs was an evenly contested affair throughout, with the biggest advantage for either team being Rutgers’ 29-18 lead in the first half. Vanderbilt’s 13-2 run in the final 6:12 of the first half forced a 31-31 tie at halftime. Jones and Siakam combined for 11 of the Commodores’ 13 points in the surge.

Vanderbilt took a 55-52 lead on Kornet’s left-side 3 with 7:49 left in regulation. The basket was the culmination of an 8-0 run.

But from that point, Rutgers outscored Vanderbilt 16-10. Jack’s three-point play put the Scarlet Knights ahead 57-55. Vanderbilt got as close as 65-65 after Jones’ three point play with 1:14 left, but Jack’s layup with 42 seconds remaining gave Rutgers a lead they would not relinquish.

“They carry us. They’re big for us. They’re impact players for us. They’re seniors and they can rest after the year is out,” Jordan said of Mack and Jack before detailing the game-deciding play.

“It was a two-man game with Myles. It was something that we worked on.”


RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights lost junior guard Bishop Daniels for the game with an ankle injury after he landed on Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance’s foot following a leaping pass. Jordan said X-rays were negative.

VANDERBILT: Friday night’s game was Vanderbilt’s first in New York State since a 78-62 loss to Syracuse at the Carrier Classic on Dec. 4, 1993.

UP NEXT: Rutgers will meet Virginia in the Barclays Center Classic Championship game Saturday night. Vanderbilt will meet La Salle in the consolation game.