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Rutgers men's basketball set to kick off season against Lehigh

Senior guard Geo Baker and the Rutgers men’s basketball team open up their 2021-2022 season on Wednesday, facing off against Lehigh at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus.  – Photo by Scarletknights.com

After a wait of nearly eight months, the Rutgers men’s basketball team will take the court to open its season tomorrow against Lehigh. The game kicks off a highly anticipated season for the Scarlet Knights as they look to make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since the 1975 and 1976 seasons.

Of the eight players who played in the program’s season-ending defeat to Houston, five have returned for Rutgers in 2021-2022. This includes senior guards Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr., who both entered the NBA Draft before deciding to return to the Knights.

“(Baker) and I knew that we wanted to play with each other again and we knew we wanted to give it one more shot,” Harper Jr. said. Harper Jr. was recently selected to the Big Ten Preseason All-Conference team. “It was kind of one of those things where ‘yeah, I want the best for you, but man I’d love to play with you next season.'”

Fellow key returnees include junior guard Paul Mulcahy, sophomore center Clifford Omoruyi and senior guard Caleb McConnell. They are joined by a mix of newcomers and young players who figure to make an impact this season.

“I like this group and I think there is a ton of good things happening here,” said head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell. “We have awesome chemistry, and that's going to help us with any obstacle we face, including playing in the best conference in the country. We had a great summer and by far our best spring. We're excited the students are back on campus and that we'll soon be seeing and hearing the Riot Squad and the rest of our amazing fans.”

The excitement for this season has translated to the ticket booth. As of this week, Rutgers has announced that the first three games of the season have been sold out along with five Big Ten matchups. Dating back to the 2019-2020 season, the home sell-out streak now stands at 12. Wednesday’s season-opener has been sold out for nearly a month.

The Knights will be playing their home games this season in the newly-named Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus. Formerly known to fans as “the RAC”, the University announced last week an agreement to sell the naming rights to the sub sandwich franchise based in Manasquan, New Jersey. The deal will net Rutgers approximately $28 million over 20 years.

Looking at the team the Knights will face tomorrow evening, the Mountain Hawks ended last season with a 4-11 record. Now in his 15th season, head coach Brett Reed returns several key pieces including Patriot League Preseason All-League Team Marques Wilson. Last season, Wilson led the team in points, assists, steals and minutes per-game.

Rutgers vs. Lehigh is set to tip-off at 7 p.m and will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network+. Before the game, the Knights will unveil their 2020-2021 NCAA Tournament banner to commemorate last season’s accomplishments. Fans are encouraged to arrive 40 minutes early in order to see the banner be unveiled.

“To get this last year with (Pikiell) is just going to be super special,” Baker said. “We kind of started this thing together. We saw this thing turn from a basketball team to a basketball program, which is something a lot of people didn’t really think would happen at Rutgers.”


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


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