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College Basketball: Seton Hall Smokes Rutgers in Garden State Classic at the RAC

It was billed as a tightly contested rivalry game that would go down to the wire. The Garden State Classic, featuring Rutgers (3-5) and Seton Hall (6-2), was in actuality, more one-sided.

The Pirates handled the Scarlet Knights for the majority of the game, and won 84-55 in convincing fashion.

Although the Knights came out strong to start the contest, there were never really in it when it mattered.

It was a game characterized with poor defense and sloppy ball handling for Rutgers, with not enough mental focus according to head coach Eddie Jordan.

“Our mental effort wasn’t great tonight,” Jordan said. “The physical effort is second nature and can help you, but we weren’t playing smart. When you’re not playing smart you get behind and have to catch up. That’s tiring and we didn’t play smart after 12 minutes or so.”

The Knights committed 13 turnovers and allowed the Pirates to shoot 47 percent from the field.

After leading the game 20-11, Rutgers seemed to be up to the task of competing with the Pirates. But their shots faltered, and it allowed Seton Hall to go on a 36-14 run to close the first half with a 47-34 lead.

Rutgers was not able to trim the deficit in the second half.

The Pirates excelled in spreading the ball around, as four players totaled double figures in scoring.

Without junior forward Deshawn Freeman, the Knights were exposed in the paint. They were outrebounded 53-32, and surrendered 44 points in the paint to the Pirates.

Rutgers tried to implement a small lineup for the majority of the game to counter its lack of depth in the frontcourt, but it was clear they missed Freeman’s body on the interior.

“We always miss a good player,” Jordan said. “He is arguably our best player. He is a guy who can catch the ball and calm things down. Brings scoring and passing, knowing the offense well with a feel for the game. He was a big we were missing and we all know Shaquille Doorson is out. When Greg gets in foul trouble we went to Ibrahima who is a freshman learning his way.”

The Knights are reeling after starting the season 3-1. Rutgers will look to get back on track Tuesday against Central Connecticut.

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