PISCATAWAY, N.J. – After James Beatty scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half to lift Rutgers to a 71-62 win over South Florida on Thursday night, Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice was questioned as to why his point guard didnt shoot more.
Beatty himself didnt even wait to be asked.
"I know, I know, why dont I shoot more," the smiling senior said as reporters converged around him. "I dont know why. Its funny, Im always shooting after practice, I even got in the paint today.
"At times in second half we have struggled to score, weve had breakdowns and Im tired of it because we work so hard in the first half to stay in games. So me and Jonathan (Mitchell) talked about it and tonight we made plays."
Mitchell also had 20 points and Mike Coburn added 13 for the Scarlet Knights (11-7, 2-4 Big East), who handed USF its 10th loss in 12 games. The Bulls (7-13, 1-6), now 0-8 on the road, got 14 each from Augustus Gilchrist and Hugh Robertson and 11 from Jawanza Poland.
Beatty, who was averaging 6.3 shots per game, hit 7 of 11 in the second half and 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He also drove the lane for several layups.
"We explained to him at halftime he needs to shoot and penetrate," Rice said. "Hes shooting 48 percent from 3-point range in Big East play. We need more scoring and our seniors to step up.
"Hes so unselfish. Its hard to be truly angry at him. Hes the point guard, the guy wants to make everybody happy."
USF scored the first five points of the second half for a 30-25 lead before Beatty hit three straight 3-pointers to put Rutgers ahead.
"Those were some big plays," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "We started the way we wanted to, we showed some patience, I liked what we were doing offensively. But you have to play both ends of the court.
"We knew Beatty was the straw that stirs the drink, and we were late getting to him, he got some rhythm shots and made three in a row."
It then went back and forth until Beattys 3-pointer made it 47-44 and gave Rutgers the lead for good.
The Scarlet Knights took control when nine straight points made it 61-50 with 3:19 left. Poland missed a wide-open breakaway slam that he tried to tomahawk in the midst of the run. A bucket would have brought the Bulls within five, but USF got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Beatty felt the miss gave Rutgers a lift.
"That could have given them momentum," he said. "He killed it for them with that dunk. And who knows what would have happened to us. Would we hang our heads or keep our composure?"
Heath felt the difference in the game was Rutgers senior leadership, but admitted the missed dunk was "a letdown" along with some late turnovers.
"I have no problem with him dunking the ball," Heath said. "I thought he tried to throw a little more emphatic emphasis on the dunk and didnt need to. I thought he could have gone up and made a simple normal dunk. We talked about it."
Rutgers shot 55.6 percent in the second half after shooting just 34.8 percent in the first. USF was even worse at 31.8 percent before heading into intermission tied at 25.