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Rutgers men's basketball beats Central Connecticut State to close non-conference play

Senior guard Geo Baker put up 11 points against Central Connecticut State. – Photo by

The Rutgers men’s basketball team began 2022 with a dominant 79-48 win over Central Connecticut State. The win wraps up non-conference play for the Scarlet Knights (7-5, 1-1) before resuming Big Ten play.

The game’s outcome was never in question, as Rutgers went to work early on building an impressive lead over the Blue Devils (4-11, 1-1). By the time the game reached the halfway point of the first half, the Knights led 17-8.

From that point until the end of the half, Rutgers would out-score Central Connecticut State 27-6 and take a 44-14 lead into the halftime break. It was the largest lead that the program has had at the break so far this season.

The Knights’ largest overall lead would be 46 points in route to victory, as head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell utilized most of his bench in the waning minutes.

Among those to see action in the second half were fifth-year forward Luke Nathan and sophomore guard Aiden Terry. Nathan scored 2 points in his 6 minutes of action.

“I thought we came out ready, we’re getting better. Twenty-five assists is like off the charts on 35 plays, so I love that.” said head coach Steve Pikiell after the game.

Sophomore center Clifford Omoruyi was Rutgers’ leading scorer and rebounder with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Senior guard Geo Baker joined Omoruyi in double-figures with 11 points, seven assists and three three-pointers. Baker is now a combined 6-9 from deep in the past two games.

“As you guys know, I was dealing with a hamstring injury, so I was looking at it as this isn’t happening to me, it’s happening for me,” Baker said on Thursday when talking about the long layoff the program had in December due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). “I got a little bit of rest, I got to rest my hamstring a little bit, and it definitely felt a little better.”

While Baker’s seven assists set a personal season-high, junior guard Paul Mulcahy led the team and tied his own season-high with eight assists in the victory. Sophomore guard Aundre Hyatt led all scorers off the bench with 9 points.

The Knights led the Blue Devils in nearly every team statistic, with the 56-18 advantage in points-in-the-paint being the most lopsided of all the comparisons. Rutgers also led 32-11 in bench points, 24-6 in fast break points, 18-8 in points-off-turnovers and held a 49-31 rebounding advantage.

Joe Ostrowsky and Stephane Ayangma both led Central Connecticut State in scoring with 12 points. Ayangma also produced a double-double with a team-high 10 rebounds, a number which included six offensive rebounds. No player shot over 50 percent for the Blue Devils in what was a 27.3 percent overall shooting performance.

Rutgers will remain at home to restart Big Ten play against Michigan on Tuesday in front of a sold-out crowd. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.

“I want to thank the fans that came out, I love the students that were here. I appreciate them very much...” Pikiell said. “We need everyone to show up on Tuesday, we got a huge game against one of the best teams in our conference, and we’re going to need everybody here to make (Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston Campus) loud.”

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

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