Rutgers (7-2) was playing its first game without head coach Mike Rice, who was suspended for three games without pay due to a violation of athletic department policy. Assistant David Cox is coaching the team in Rice’s absence.
Rutgers got 20 points from Eli Carter and 10 from Dane Miller.
UAB (5-6), which whittled a 25-point deficit to seven with just over three minutes remaining, got a career-high 23 points from Jordan Swing, while Preston Purifoy had a career-high 20 and Rod Rucker 14.
The Scarlet Knights took a 36-11 lead by making their first 10 shots and 15 of their first 16. Rutgers shot 73.9 percent (17 of 23) in the first half and finished at 60 percent (27 of 45). It also made 87.9 percent (29 of 33) from the free-throw line.
UAB got within 74-67 with 3:05 remaining but Carter responded with a three-point play.
Rutgers was perfect for the game’s first eight minutes, and by the time Jerome Seagears missed a 3-pointer the Knights were up 21-7.
UAB managed to get to within 43-29 by hitting five straight shots before Rutgers took a 50-33 lead at intermission.
The Knights cooled in the second half, hitting 10 of 22 (45.5 percent), but maintained a double-figure lead for most of the way.
UAB slowly chipped away, and a three-point play by Purifoy cut the deficit to seven. Carter then scored nine of Rutgers’ next 13 points as it rebuilt its advantage to 87-72 with 29 seconds left.
Despite being outrebounded 30-28 and committing 18 turnovers Rutgers maintained control by holding UAB to 43.9 percent shooting (29 of 66).
Carter had six assists and three steals but committed seven turnovers, while Miller had seven rebounds.
Rutgers had two days to prepare under Cox after Rice was suspended on Thursday.