NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Myles Powell spent the last year growing irritated hearing how Rutgers was the best college basketball team in the Garden State. That won’t be the case for the New Jersey native in 2019.
Powell had a game-high 28 points, including six 3-pointers to lead Seton Hall past Rutgers 72-66 in the Garden State Hardwood Classic Saturday.
“You only get to play that game once, and Jersey basketball is only so big — all the top players, they know each other — so to have to go and travel around the state just knowing that Rutgers beat us and people walking around saying that Rutgers is better than Seton Hall – you take it personally,” Powell said. “So like I said, they left a bad taste in my mouth all year and I finally got to get them back, so it feels good.”
Rutgers (5-5, 0-2 Big Ten) seemed poised to make a double-digit comeback for the second straight year after Peter Kiss (14 points) drilled a 3-pointer off a pass from Geo Baker to cap off a 10-0 run by Rutgers, causing Seton Hall (7-3) to call timeout. Trailing 46-39 with 14:07 left in the game, Rutgers was able to cut the lead to three after a layup by Montez Mathis with 3:21 remaining. However, that’s the closest Rutgers would get as Powell hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
“Powell made a huge one,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “Again, I’ve seen him do it. We tried to deny him the ball and he made a couple un-guardable shots. We dug back into this basketball game, but we’re still a team of a lot of youth and a team trying to figure things out.”
In the first half, back-to-back 3s by Powell, winner of the Joe Calabrese MVP Award, caused Rutgers to call a timeout. Up 21-14 with 6:29 left, Seton Hall’s lead would balloon to 11 before going into halftime with a 34-25 lead.
“Everyone’s seeing the player he is,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said of Powell. “I think he’s starting to figure it out.His overall game is at a pretty good level right now.”
While the Pirates were 11-of-27 from beyond the arc, the Scarlet Knights were 6-of-27, and just 2-of-16 in the first half.
Rutgers was led by Eugene Omoruyi, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Baker had 14 points and five assists.
“The trophy is where it’s supposed to be now. Seton Hall owns the state,” Powell said, adding, “Now we get to wear the crown for a year.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights lost back-to-back games for the first time this season and will once again have a week to stew on the loss. However, they do have two winnable games to close out non-conference play, hosting Columbia and Maine the next two Saturdays. The four Saturday games are the only games Rutgers has over the month of December.
Seton Hall: As the Pirates look to make the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season, beating then No. 9 Kentucky and a Big Ten foe in Rutgers will help the tournament resume, and could garner a couple more Top 25 votes.
The intrastate college basketball rivalry has a history of getting chippy. Things weren’t much different. The referees issued five technical fouls in the game.
After upsetting then No. 9 Kentucky at Madison Square Garden last Saturday, Seton Hall received a vote in the latest AP Top 25, which would rank them tied for 39th in the nation with four other teams.