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Rutgers men's basketball looks to stay undefeated against Sacred Heart

Junior forward Mawot Mag and the Rutgers men's basketball team continue their non-conference start to the season when they host Sacred Heart tomorrow night.  – Photo by Rutgers Men’s Basketball / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team will face off against Sacred Heart tomorrow night in its second game of the season. The Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0) will look to build on their opening-day blowout victory over Columbia.

Rutgers started its much anticipated season with a 75-35 victory against the Lions (0-1, 0-0). The Knights led 31-21 at the end of the first half but pulled away in the second half, scoring 44 points and only allowing Columbia to score 14 points in the entire second half.

Senior guard Cam Spencer had a strong debut for Rutgers, finishing with 17 points, five assists and six steals. Junior forward Aundre Hyatt also had a standout game for the Knights, securing a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hyatt started in place of fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell, who was out due to a lingering knee injury.

Rutgers’ defense was suffocating against the Lions. The program forced 23 turnovers which resulted in 31 points as well as 14 steals and four blocks in total.

The Knights also had a strong rebounding performance. They had 16 offensive rebounds which resulted in 9 second-chance points. Rutgers also had 30 defensive rebounds and only allowed Columbia to grab eight offensive rebounds. Hyatt, junior center Clifford Omoruyi and junior forward Mawot Mag each corralled five or more rebounds.

The Knights struggled at the free throw line. They only shot 35.7 percent from the line and only made five free throws throughout the game. Rutgers also struggled to shoot the ball in the first half. The team only shot 32.5 percent from the field in the first half and missed many open layups. While the Knights shot a much improved 56.25 percent in the second half, they will look to shoot well in both frames against the Pioneers (1-0, 0-0).

On the other side, Sacred Heart won its season opener last night against Hartford. Last year, the Pioneers struggled with a 10-20 record and a 6-12 conference record. The team was knocked out of the Northeast Conference Tournament in the quarterfinals without a win.

Head coach Anthony Latina returns for his 10th season with Sacred Heart. Returning with Latina is forward Nico Galette, who led the team with 7.9 rebounds per game last year and averaged 12.4 points per game.

Latina was able to bring graduate students Brendan McGuire and Raheem Solomon along with junior Aidan Carpenter in from the transfer portal this offseason. Expect these three players to feature against Rutgers.

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network+ and 88.7 WRSU-FM as the Knights look to capture their second win of the season.

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

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