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Williams scores 22, leads Rutgers over Sacred Heart 79-54

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PISCATAWAY, New Jersey — Attack the basket.

That's what Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan wanted Mike Williams to do to get his points rather than settle for jumpers.

The freshman did just that, and the result was a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead Rutgers (7-5, Big Ten) past Sacred Heart (6-5, Northeast) 79-54 on Tuesday.

"Tonight he proved he's more of a driving scorer than a shooting scorer," Jordan said. "He really got to the basket."

Williams' fellow backcourt mate Myles Mack chipped in with 19 points and five assists.

Much of the reason for the guards' combined performance had to do with the game plan.

"We integrated another offensive set that created more space," Jordan said. "Less movement, but more space and relying on our guards to get into the paint and get a kick."

Rutgers' biggest lead was 27, when they led Sacred Heart 76-49 with 2:52 left in the game thanks to a jumper from walk-on Khalil Batie.

This time, Rutgers was able to hold on to big lead. The game prior, the Scarlet Knights built a 16-point lead early in the first half against St. Francis (Pa.) before losing 73-68.

Rutgers built a 34-18 halftime lead against Sacred Heart, ending the first stanza on a 14-2 run.

Sacred heart was hurt by poor shooting and ball handling. The Pioneers shot 5 of 31 in the first half and had 11 turnovers. Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina said his team struggled in scoring in large part because of Rutgers' size and length.

"We probably won't play a team with that size again, but we are going to have games where we struggle to score. We have to figure out how do we score? We have to find a way to manufacture points when we're in a situation like that," Latina said. "I think that's the biggest takeaway."

Rutgers didn't let up in the second half, opening with an 8-2 run to make it 46-20.

"Sometimes we come out in the second half a little dead," Williams said. "So we told each other in the first half that we were going to put our foot on their necks and in the second half we were going to capitalize on every little mistake that they did and we were just making shots in the second half, so that's the major factor in today's game."

Sacred Heart was led by Tevin Felzon, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Cane Broome chipped in with 12 points, but had five turnovers.

It was the third meeting between the teams, with Rutgers winning every game of the series.

TIP-INS

Rutgers: Kadeem Jack made the start despite re-injuring his right thumb against St. Francis (Pa.). Jack missed the first two games of the season with a sprained right thumb.

Sacred Heart: Rutgers was the second and final Big Ten opponent for Sacred Heart. The Pioneers had lost at No. 21 Ohio State 106-48 on Nov. 23. It's the sixth time Sacred Heart has played a Big Ten opponent. The Pioneers are 0-6 against the conference.

STEALING THE SHOW

Rutgers had 10 steals against Sacred Heart. They were led by Mike Williams, who had a career-high four steals.

NOT CLEANING THE GLASS

Sacred Heart outrebounded Rutgers 45-40. It marks the sixth time in seven home games the Scarlet Knights were outrebounded.

"There's no rebounding drills that are going to help you rebound," Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. "You just have to get guys who are going to stick their nose in there. You just have to get your fangs out and go get it. You got to make your mind up to go get it."

UP NEXT

Rutgers plays at Monmouth on Sunday.

Sacred Heart visits Brown on Sunday.

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