Seton Hall 73, Rutgers 67
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—After 11 games, Seton Hall junior guard Jamar Nutter was a little-known reserve, averaging a nondescript nine points per game, playing about 20 minutes per contest.
Now, Nutter has emerged as the Pirates’ go-to scorer, transforming himself into a marquee player almost overnight.
“I’ve seen Jamar have practices all year and to me, that’s where it starts,” Seton Hall coach Louis Orr said after Nutter had another fine game, scoring 22 points in a 73-67 victory over cross-state rival Rutgers Sunday afternoon at the Continental Airlines Arena.
It was the team’s fifth straight victory.
“He had spurts in the early games, but now, he’s going in with the right mind-set,” Orr said of Nutter, who scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the first half.
Over the last nine games, Nutter is averaging 18 points per game, reaching double figures in all nine. During that stretch, Seton Hall (14-6, 5-3 in Big East) is 6-3. Before that stretch, Nutter had reached double figures only twice in 11 games.
Nutter attributes the success to better chances and more playing time. His playing time has increased since Stan Gaines went out with facial fractures in a prior loss at Rutgers on Jan. 7.
“I’m getting some good opportunities,” Nutter said. “I’m taking the shots they’re giving me and making those shots. Whatever they give me, I’ll take.”
Sunday’s win was the fifth straight home victory for the Pirates in the long-standing series, dating back to 1916. Kelly Whitney added 20 points and Donald Copeland had 12 for the winners.
Rutgers, which was paced by Quincy Douby’s game-high 28 points, fell to 13-9 overall and 3-6 in the Big East.
Seton Hall jumped out to an 11-2 lead after the first four minutes, paced by three 3-pointers from Nutter, the third an impressive catch-and-shoot falling away attempt from the far right corner.
But Rutgers came right back, paced by Douby, who immediately scored seven straight points to get the Scarlet Knights back into the game. Rutgers would eventually take a 24-21 lead on five straight points from Marquis Webb (11 points) with 8:25 left in the half, before the two teams traded the lead four more times over the next five minutes.
Seton Hall then took control over the final 4:57 of the first half, outscoring the Scarlet Knights, 13-2, to take a 41-32 lead at halftime.
Douby nailed a long 3-pointer with 3:00 remaining, cutting the lead to 66-65, before Whitney connected on two straight jumpers from the left corner, pushing the Seton Hall advantage to 70-65 with 1:50 left.
“I knew the second one sealed it,” said Whitney, who also grabbed eight rebounds for the winners.
Webb hit a corner jumper with 1:14 left, slicing the lead to 70-67. Rutgers had a chance to tie the game in the closing minute, but Douby’s 3-point attempt fell short.
Rutgers coach Gary Waters believed his star was a little fatigued down the stretch.
“He didn’t have his legs and I thought the boy was tired, way tired,” Waters said.
Copeland iced the game with two free throws with 20 seconds left.
“Nutter got us off to a good start,” Orr said. “Every game his confidence grows.”