Rutgers holds EMU to 4 first-half points in 63-36 rout
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By MATT SUGAM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers rebounded in record fashion after a blowout loss at home to St. John's, winning its third game on Monday night with a 63-36 rout of Eastern Michigan.
Geo Baker had 20 points and the Scarlet Knights (3-1) had their third double-digit win of the season while holding Eastern Michigan to an NCAA-record low four first-half points.
Rutgers tied an NCAA Division I record for points allowed in a half as it built a 31-4 halftime lead. It was Eastern Michigan, coincidently, that held Northern Illinois to four points (18-4) in the first half on Jan. 16, 2013. Kansas State outscored Savannah State 48-4 in the second half on Jan. 7, 2008.
"A lot of us were a little down after that game (St. Johns). We felt we disappointed some people," Baker said. "But it humbled us and made us better as a team. Coach (Steve Pikiell) said you can either lose or you can learn. I think it helped us learn."
One thing the Scarlet Knights studied was suffocating defense.
Eastern Michigan (4-2) was 0 of 7 from the free-throw line in the first half, and didn't score until Kevin McAdoo's jumper at the 14-minute mark. The Eagles didn't score again until there was 5:36 left in the first half.
"We really needed an identity as a defensive team," Baker said. "We took a step forward in that category today."
Baker was 7-of-9-shooting, made six 3-pointers and had five assists. Peter Kiss added 10 points for Rutgers.
Boubacar Toure scored seven points off the bench to lead Eastern Michigan, which finished 15 of 54 (28 percent) from the floor, 3-of-13 shooting from long range, and missed 14 of 17 free-throw attempts. James Thompson IV's added six points and eight rebounds for the Eagles.
"We came out with a lot of energy in the second half, tried to make a run at it, but anytime you get down 20-plus points in the opposition's building, normally you don't come back," Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy, "So it's tough."
LITTLE OR NOTHING
EMU struggled mightily from the free-throw line. After going 0 of 7 from the foul line in the first half, Eastern Michigan finished a putrid 3-of-17 shooting.
FIRST WIN FOR SCARLET KNIGHTS
This is the first win over Eastern Michigan for Rutgers. In the only other meeting, EMU defeated Rutgers 74-71 win on Dec. 9, 1995 before going on to win the Mid-American Conference title and defeat Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles were picked to finish first in the West Division in the MAC preseason poll, and only second overall to Buffalo. They have fared well despite two blowout losses, to Rutgers and 84-46 at Duke.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights rebounded from a 19-point loss at home against a talented St. John's team on Friday. They have won by double digits in each of their three wins. After hosting Boston University, Rutgers is at Miami before opening up Big Ten play against Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Eastern Michigan: Host Detroit Mercy on Saturday.
Rutgers: Host Boston University on Friday.
Updated November 19, 2018