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Rutgers men's basketball defeats Northwestern

Junior guard Ron Harper Jr. contributed 14 points as the Rutgers men's basketball team defeated Northwestern for the second time this season. – Photo by Rutgers Basketball / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team defeated Northwestern 64-50 on Saturday. After a tough loss on Wednesday to Iowa, the No. 25 Scarlet Knights (12-7, 8-7) responded by defeating the Wildcats (6-12, 3-11) for the second time this season. This weekend’s win also marks Rutgers’ fourth consecutive win over Northwestern.

The Knights got off to a slow start, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 14-4 lead with approximately 14 minutes left in the first half. Rutgers would respond by outscoring Northwestern 33-13 for the remainder of the first half, taking a 37-27 lead into the break. 

At the half, junior center Myles Johnson led the Knights with 12 points and a team-high 6 rebounds. Senior guard Jacob Young contributed 9 points off the bench in the first half, while junior guard Ron Harper Jr. also chipped in with 8 points and five rebounds. For the Wildcats, Anthony Gaines led the scoring attack with 11 points.

As the second half began, Rutgers extended its lead to 41-27 with a little more than a minute gone by before Northwestern responded with an 11-0 scoring run to cut the lead to 41-38 with approximately 13 minutes left.

Despite the surge from the Wildcats, the Knights would not surrender the lead the rest of the way, as Rutgers would outscore Northwestern 23-12 the rest of the second half to help secure the victory.

The Knights were led in scoring by Young, who finished with 15 points and two steals off the bench. Meanwhile, Johnson and Harper Jr. each delivered double-doubles in the win. Harper Jr. scored 14 points and collected 11 rebounds, while Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds. Junior guard Caleb McConnell also contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals in the victory.

In the losing effort, the Wildcats were led by Gaines and Chase Audige, each scoring 11 points. Pete Nance led Northwestern in rebounds, hauling in seven in the loss.

As a team, Rutgers shot 41.1 percent from the field to the Wildcats' 32.7 percent, while holding a decisive advantage on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 43-31. From the free-throw line, the Knights were able to finish the game shooting 87.5 percent to Northwestern's 66.7 percent.

Rutgers has now won 5 of its last 6 games, with only five games remaining in the regular season. Ahead of the Knights is an opportunity to secure the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 30 years, with Selection Sunday less than a month away.

Rutgers will now travel to face Michigan on Thursday, with tip-off scheduled for 9 P.M. on Fox Sports 1.

“We got contributions from everybody. I loved our bench. They gave us great energy and loved the fact that everyone chipped in here,” said head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell after the win. “Every game in this league is a war, and that (game) was no different.”

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

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