After coaching Rutgers to a 3-0 men's basketball record while replacing Mike Rice, associate head coach David Cox gave all the credit to the Scarlet Knight players.
"I'm sure they're excited about Coach Rice coming back," said Cox after Dane Miller's 18 points led Rutgers to a 68-56 win over Rider on Friday in Piscataway. "But don't take anything away from the last two weeks and the growth they made as a team. I'm not talking about coaches. But as a group, that team came together and showed you what they could do."
Rice was suspended without pay and fined $50,000 for violating athletic department policy. He will return to practice today. In his absence Cox guided Rutgers to wins over UAB, Howard and Rider.
"It was different styles of coaching, but we're going to play together regardless," said Kadeem Jack, who had 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting. "Now it's just back to business again. This brought us real close as a team, and we realize we can do a lot of special things with this group."
Eli Carter scored all 15 of his points in the second half for Rutgers, which has won nine of its last 10 and takes a 9-2 record into its Big East opener at Syracuse.
Rider (6-7), which has lost three straight, got 20 points from Daniel Stewart and 14 from Anthony Myles. The Broncs dropped to 0-5 in games when they have not scored at least 60 points.
Villanova 70, NJIT 60: Ryan Arcidiacono scored 17 points as Villanova overcame struggles from the field in a victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology in Villanova, Pa.
It was the final nonconference game for Villanova (9-4), which opens Big East play next Wednesday by hosting St. John's.
Darrun Hilliard had 12 points and JayVaughn Pinkston and Maurice Sutton had 10 apiece for the Wildcats, who won their fifth straight.
Villanova shot just 30.8 percent (20-of-65) from the field, including 5-of-27 3-point attempts.
Ryan Woods had 13 points for NJIT (6-6).
Seton Hall 60, Stony Brook 59: Brian Oliver came off the bench to score all 20 of his points in the first half and Seton Hall rallied in the game's final 10 minutes to defeat Stony Brook in Newark.
The win was the sixth in a row for the Pirates (11-2), who were 6-0 in December. The Seawolves (8-4) lost their second straight.
Seton Hall led by nine points, 38-29, late in the first half, then saw Stony Brook take the lead in the second half before making a comeback of its own.
Stony Brook had a chance to win in the final seconds but bounced the ball out of bounds off Seton Hall players twice, then Anthony Jackson misfired from 17 feet as the buzzer sounded.
Besides Oliver's production, the Pirates received 14 points from Eugene Teague and 12 points and 10 rebounds from Brandon Mobley.
Dave Coley paced Stony Brook with 21 points.
Saint Joseph's 96, Iona 91: In Philadelphia, Carl Jones netted 32 points, including the 1,500th of his career, as Saint Joseph's snapped a two-game losing streak and beat Iona.
Jones entered with 1,499 points and became the 16th Hawk to surpass the mark. Langston Galloway added 23 points and C.J. Aiken had 22 with nine rebounds.
The 96 points were the most by Saint Joseph's (6-4) in a regulation game since beating Massachusetts 98-92 on Jan. 9, 2008.
David Laury's dunk pulled Iona (6-6) within 90-88 with 37 seconds left. Saint Joseph's made four foul shots, then Iona's Lamont Jones hit a 3-pointer to make it 94-91 with 17 seconds left.
After Aiken made two free throws, Jones missed a jumper with 10 seconds left to end the comeback try.
Jones, who entered fifth in the NCAA with 22.2 points per game, had 25 points and Laury added 21 points with 14 boards.