Mack leads Rutgers past Central Florida 85-75

The Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Myles Mack scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half as Rutgers held off Central Florida 85-75 Wednesday night.

Jerome Seagears had 18 points for the Scarlet Knights (8-9, 2-2) in the first meeting between the American Athletic Conference schools. Junior Etou had 14 points and six rebounds while Wally Judge added 10 points. Mack, who scored his 1,000th career point with two first-half free throws, had six of his eight assists in the second half.

Isaiah Sykes had a career-high 29 points along with eight rebounds for the Knights (9-6, 1-3), who have lost two straight after winning six of seven. Eugene McCrory had 14 points and Kasey Williams added 10 points and eight rebounds.

After UCF whittled a 45-32 deficit to 51-45, Mack was in on 25 of the final 34 points scored by Rutgers, as he had 18 points and three assists.

Central Florida got within 68-65 with 6:15 remaining before Mack hit two foul shots and Seagears found Judge for a slam to up the advantage to seven.

Central Florida continued to scrap but Rutgers always had an answer. With the score 74-68, Mack hit a 3-pointer. After Williams hit a 3-pointer to pull the Knights within 79-73 with 2:56 left, Rutgers closed with a 6-0 run. It started when Mack found J.J. Moore for an open 3-pointer in the right corner. Mack then hit 3 of 4 from the line to end it.

Mack finished 7 for 17 but was 6 for 10 after the break. The Scarlet Knights shot 47 percent (31 for 66) and was 17 for 31 (54.8 percent) in the second half.

Central Florida stayed in the game at the foul line. The Knights shot 36.1 percent (22 for 61) but was 26 for 34 from the free throw line.

Mack, who was bothered by tightness in his legs, had just four first half points but his two foul shots with 2:50 remaining made him the 40th player in Rutgers history to score 1,000 points.

Despite 26.7 percent shooting (8-30), Central Florida stayed close in the first half and trailed 21-20 with 4:44 remaining. After a Rutgers timeout, Seagears sandwiched two 3-pointers around an Isaiah Sykes lay-up to start the Scarlet Knights on a 14-6 run to end the half.

Seagears had 12 points in the half and was 3 for 4 on 3-pointers, while Etou added 11. Sykes kept the Knights within striking distance with 11 points, including a put-back at the buzzer.