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Rutgers men's basketball drops hard fought matchup at Miami

The Rutgers men's basketball team lost its ACC/Big Ten Challenge match to Miami in a game that went down to the wire. – Photo by

The Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to Miami 68-61 in its ACC/Big Ten Challenge game. The Scarlet Knights (5-2, 0-0) fought hard but could not ultimately get secure the road victory.

Rutgers played a back-and-forth first half, trading the lead several times. The Knights only allowed the Hurricanes (7-1, 0-0) to make one three-point shot in the first half, and they shot just under 56 percent from three. Rutgers also dominated the glass in the first half by securing 18 total rebounds and seven offensive rebounds.

Those offensive rebounds turned into seven second-chance points for the Knights. Rutgers took a 34-33 lead into the halftime break, but it could have been a 3-point lead if junior forward Mawot Mag did not miss an open layup right before the end of the half.

Junior forward Aundre Hyatt had a strong first half, scoring 9 points and shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell made his return to the starting lineup and had an impressive first half scoring 7 points, getting four assists and corralling in four rebounds.

The Knights started the second half hot and jumped out to an 11-point lead with 16:39 left in the second half. The Hurricanes slowly started making their way back and with 6:19 left, Nijel Pack made a three-pointer to tie the game up at 56.

Miami took a three-point lead shortly after, but McConnell made a transition three-point shot to tie the game at 61 with 2:45 remaining. Those would be the last points that Rutgers would score, as the Hurricanes went on a 7-0 run in the final minute to secure the victory.

Junior center Clifford Omoruyi stood out in the loss, scoring 16 points, shooting 7-for-10 from the field, and getting nine rebounds. With the absence of senior guard Paul Mulcahy, McConnell was asked to play a lot of point guard and he responded to the call scoring 16 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the field, and getting two steals.

Norchad Omier had a standout game for Miami. Omoruyi scored 17 points, got nine rebounds and played strong defense on Omoruyi. The Hurricanes shot a much improved 56 percent from three-point range in the second half which spurred them to the win.

The Knights will look to bounce back when the program hosts No. 10 Indiana on Saturday. The game will tip off at 4 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"This is a learning opportunity, we're going to be in a lot of close games when we go on the road," said head coach Steve Pikiell. "When you play guards as elite as these guards, you're going to make shots down the stretch. We had our chances down the stretch to win the basketball game, when you go on the road and play good teams that’s what you want. That's what we had tonight, hopefully we'll get better at finishing."

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

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