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Rutgers takes on Penn State to finish road trip

 – Photo by Curstine Guevarra

The Rutgers men’s basketball team lost its second game in a row in its defeat to Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights (18-10, 9-8) came up short against the Badgers (17-10, 10-6) by a final score of 79-71. Despite the loss, junior guard and team co-captain Geo Baker surpassed the 1000-point mark Sunday afternoon.

Rutgers struggled in the first half while playing Wisconsin. It was outscored 39-26. Although it had a big second half, outscoring the Badgers 45-40, its offense wasn’t enough to secure the win. Three players from the Knights scored in double figures. 

Head coach Steve Pikiell spoke on Wisconsin’s hot start.

"They got off to a good start. They were shooting the ball well, and that dictates your game plan. They don't give you a lot of time, so you better be there on the catch," Pikiell said. "I thought we settled down in the second half. We had a lot of turnovers in the first half. And they have a lot of shooters, more now than the first time we played them. They're a tough team to play. You have to pick your poison."

Sophomore guard Ron Harper Jr. (21 points), sophomore guard Montez Mathis (12 points) and Baker (16 points) all surpassed the double figure mark in the loss. Graduate student forward Akwasi Yeboah also poured in 8 points. Rutgers continues to struggle on the road, posting a record of 1-9 when playing at away or neutral territories. 

Pikiell spoke to the media about the team's struggles away from the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).

"These are all tough venues," he said. "Not a lot of people come into Wisconsin and have success. We'll have a chance if we keep playing hard and fighting through the obstacles this league brings, especially on the road."

Going forward, the Knights will continue their road trip and face off against Penn State. The No. 16 Nittany Lions (20-7, 10-6) have been one of the most consistent teams in the country this year. Although their ranking went down from No. 9 this week, they are still a formidable opponent.

In the two programs' last match-up, Rutgers took the win at home. In a sold out RAC, Harper Jr. dropped 22 points in the win. 

Players on the Knights to keep an eye on in this contest are Baker and sophomore center Myles Johnson. Last match-up, Johnson asserted his defensive presence in the win over Penn State. Baker is also looking to come off his 1000-point milestone game in dominant fashion. 

One player to keep an eye on for the Nittany Lions is Lamar Stevens. The senior is averaging 18 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. He has been the face of Penn State basketball in its successful season this year. 

Rutgers takes on the Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. tomorrow in University Park, Pennsylvania.

For updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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