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Rutgers faces Syracuse in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Rutgers will look to end its 13-game losing streak against Syracuse tonight. – Photo by Kelly Carmack / Photo Editor

After an eight-day break from its last game, the Rutgers men’s basketball team looks to continue its undefeated start to the season when it matches up with Syracuse today. The No. 21 Scarlet Knights (3-0, 0-0) have lost 13 straight to the Orange (3-0, 0-0) and have not won since a last second upset in 2003.

At a press conference held on Monday, head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell was asked about a search for another non-conference game before Big Ten play starts next week. 

“We’ve got the fourth-hardest schedule in the country,” Pikiell said. "We’ll continue to field questions (from potential opponents). We’ll probably schedule some more games in the non-conference at some point in time, but as of today I don’t have any update for you other than we’ve got the fourth-hardest schedule in the country remaining.”

Rutgers who moved up in the AP Top 25 Poll this week, is still without one of its key student-athletes, senior guard Geo Baker, who suffered a sprained ankle in the first game.

“He hasn’t practiced yet. I don’t think he’s going to practice. If you don’t practice it’s hard to play,” Pikiell said. “I’m just glad yesterday was the first time he was in the gym shooting around a little bit — not running, not jogging, just shooting. (Trainer) Rich (Campbell) will work with him the next few days, but until he practices full and all that, you can’t expect a guy to play.”

In Baker’s absence, junior forward Ron Harper Jr. has stepped up. He leads the team with 21 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

In the backcourt, senior guard Jacob Young and sophomore guard Paul Mulcahy have combined for 22 points, more than 11 assists and four steals per game.

In addition, junior center Myles Johnson is averaging 3.3 blocks per game. He also leads the nation with a 19.3 percent block rate. 

Buddy Boeheim, son of longtime head coach Jim Boeheim, will be expected to miss this game after testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before Syracuse’s game against Niagara last week.  Alan Griffin leads the Orange in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game. Also, Quincy Guerrier is the only Syracuse student-athlete to bring down more than 10 rebounds per game, averaging 11. Marek Dolezaj leads the Orange in assists and blocks. 

“We’re 0-13 against Syracuse our last 13 games,” Pikiell said. “Great program, Hall of Fame coach, terrific about shooting the basketball ... Obviously a huge test for us.”

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

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