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Big East Basketball Notes: Rutgers, Not St. John's, Making Noise With Early Play

-- SB Nation's On The Banks keeps Rutgers fans updated on all the men's basketball news.

The St. John's Red Storm, not the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, should be stringing together early-season victories during non-conference play of the men's basketball season, right?.

At least that's how the preseason season polls said it would work out.

Fortunately for the Scarlet Knights (8-2), their play, not votes, decides who's going to make early-season noise.

Rutgers, which beat the Monmouth Hawks, 79-56, Saturday to win its fifth straight game, has played solid basketball under first-year head coach Mike Rice. The quality play has produced some clatter.

"Rutgers doesn't have the personnel yet to challenge the top of the Big East," wrote's college basketball insider Jon Rothstein last Monday. "But if you watch the Scarlet Knights you will notice that Mike Rice has the Scarlet Knights in the exact spot they're supposed to be in on each and every defensive possession."

This week, Rutgers earned two lopsided non-conference wins, the first was a 79-65 victory against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (3-7, 2-0 Northeast Conference) on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Senior Johnathon Mitchell, the team's leading scorer, netted 22 points to help Rutgers earn its sixth straight win at home, a mark that hasn't been reached since 2005.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Jonathan Mitchell 10 27.9 4.7 10.8 43.5 1.5 3.4 44.1 1.5 1.9 78.9 2.2 4.1 6.3 0.8 1.1 1.0 0.8 1.5 12.4

On Saturday, Mitchell scored 16 to guide Rutgers to its first road victory of the season. But he isn't the reason why the Scarlet Knights are winning, says Rice.

"The unselfishness off our offense and the ability to move without the ball and give yourself up searching for a great shot, we did that tonight against a defense that’s difficult to prepare for," Rice told after Saturday's game.

The Scarlet Knights have two more non-conference games before traveling to the Villanova Wildcats, Jan. 2, for their first Big East game.

Scarlet Knights Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

St. Peter's Thu 12/23 7:30 PM EST
@ North Carolina Tue 12/28 9:00 PM EST
@ Villanova Sun 01/02 1:00 PM EST
Marquette Wed 01/05 7:30 PM EST
Providence Sat 01/08 8:00 PM EST

Last 5 Games

@ Monmouth Sat 12/18 W 79 - 56
Fairleigh Dickinson Tue 12/14 W 79 - 65
@ Auburn Sat 12/11 W 63 - 54
Marist Tue 12/07 W 64 - 48
NJIT Highlanders Wed 12/01 W 66 - 54

St. John's Red Storm

The Johnnies (5-3) didn't play a game this week and that's probably a good thing.

The Red Storm are trying to regroup after losing to New York rivals, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the Fordham Rams, in the same week.

"I know the Red Storm changed coaches and put together probably the best recruiting class in school history for 2011," wrote Rothstein in the same blog post last Monday. "But by no means does that mean that this current crop of players is capable of finishing in the top half of the best conference in college basketball."

"The buzz Lavin has created around the program is palpable throughout the five boroughs but reality is reality."

"This group has never executed well in end of game situations and they don't have a legitimate Big East playmaker that can break people down off the bounce and create for others."

On Monday, The Red Storm play the Davidson Wildcats (5-4, 1-1 Southern Conference) at 9:15 p.m. (MSG Network) in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival.

The winner advances to play either the Northwestern Wildcats (7-0) or the St. Francis Terriers (6-3, 2-0 NEC) on Tuesday.

Red Storm Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

Davidson Mon 12/20 9:20 PM EST
@ West Virginia Wed 12/29 7:00 PM EST
@ Providence Sat 01/01 7:00 PM EST
Georgetown Mon 01/03 7:00 PM EST
@ Notre Dame Sat 01/08 8:00 PM EST

Last 5 Games

@ Fordham Sat 12/11 L 81 - 84
St. Bonaventure Tue 12/07 L 66 - 67
Wagner Wed 12/01 W 69 - 61
@ Arizona St. Sat 11/27 W 67 - 58
Drake Fri 11/26 W 82 - 39

Syracuse Orange

Forward Kris Joseph scored 21 points Saturday night to help the No. 5 ranked Orange beat the Iona Gaels, 83-77.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Kris Joseph 11 29.0 4.2 9.7 43.0 1.0 3.4 29.7 4.5 5.9 75.4 1.2 3.9 5.1 1.8 1.6 1.4 0.7 1.6 13.8

It was the only game that Syracuse played all week.

The Orange improved to 11-0 but probably will not climb up the newest college basketball polls, which are released on Monday.

On Wednesday, SU will play its toughest non-conference home game as the Drexel Dragons (8-1) travel to the Carrier Dome.

The Dragons beat the Louisville Cardinals, 52-46, on Dec. 14:

"Coach warned us, told us Drexel could beat us if we didn't bring our 'A' game," Louisville forward Stephan Van Treese said after the loss. "We obviously didn't bring our 'A' game."

Wednesday's game will cap the non-conference schedule for SU, which begins Big East play against Providence on Dec. 28.

Orange Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

Morgan St. Mon 12/20 7:00 PM EST
Drexel Wed 12/22 7:00 PM EST
Providence Tue 12/28 9:00 PM EST
Notre Dame Sat 01/01 3:30 PM EST
@ Seton Hall Sat 01/08 12:00 PM EST

Last 5 Games

Iona Sat 12/18 W 83 - 77
Colgate Sat 12/11 W 100 - 43
Michigan St. Tue 12/07 W 72 - 58
N.C. State Sat 12/04 W 65 - 59
Cornell Tue 11/30 W 78 - 58

Big East Confernece

The Big East went 10-1 Saturday and now has three (Syracuse, the Connecticut Huskies, the Cincinnati Bearcats) of the nine remaining undefeated teams in the country.

Big East Conference Standings

As of Sunday afternoon, UConn's Kemba Walker is a top of national scoring list with 28.1 ppg. Walker is tied with Xavier Silas of the Northern Illinois Huskies.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Kemba Walker 8 33.9 9.0 16.9 53.3 2.5 5.9 42.6 7.6 8.6 88.4 1.6 3.8 5.4 4.0 2.0 2.3 0.4 1.1 28.1