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Rutgers men's basketball to face Syracuse in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Junior guard Ron Harper Jr. posted a double-double in last year's Challenge against Pittsburgh. – Photo by The Daily Targum

The Rutgers men’s basketball team has announced its first scheduled game, a Dec. 8 matchup with Syracuse. This game is part of the 22nd annual Big Ten/Atlantic Coast Conference Challenge, where the Scarlet Knights hold a 2-4 record in the series.

Both of their wins came away from Piscataway (in Miami in 2018 and in Clemson in 2014). The game is scheduled to be played at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), which will mark the first home game for Rutgers in the Challenge since 2017, when it hosted Florida State. It lost, 78-73.

The Knights and the Orange used to face off every year from 1995 to 2013, when both teams were members of the Big East conference. Syracuse holds a 39-9 lead in the overall series, currently holding a 13-game winning streak against Rutgers.

In their most recent matchup, on Jan. 2, 2013, the Orange won 78-53. This was the last in-conference matchup between the two teams, as both left the Big East conference after the 2013 season ended.

The last home win for the Knights against Syracuse came in 2003, when Hervé Lamizana banked in a game-winning three, defeating an Orange team that went on to win the national championship, led by future NBA star Carmelo Anthony.

Rutgers finished the 2013 season 12-16, while Syracuse went 30-5 and won the Big East regular-season championship and the national championship.

Last year in the Challenge, the Knights lost to Pittsburgh, 71-60. Juniors center Myles Johnson and guard Ron Harper Jr. posted double-doubles.

Leading the Orange into the RAC will be head coach Jim Boeheim, a Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, who is entering his 44th season coaching Syracuse.

This will be Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell’s first opportunity to match up with Boeheim since taking the job on the Banks in 2016. Pikiell is coming off his best season with the Knights, leading Rutgers to a 20-11 record last season.

Pikiell was honored with the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award, presented annually to the best Division I coach in the nation.

Boeheim has made 34 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Final Four five times and winning one national championship. He is a four-time Big East Coach of the Year and one-time Naismith Coach of the Year recipient.

This game will differ from the others in the series, as there will most likely not be fans in the arena due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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

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