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Rutgers men’s basketball powers past Wake Forest to snap losing streak

Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell and the Rutgers men's basketball team rode a hot shooting night to a dominant win against Wake Forest. – Photo by @RutgersMBB / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team cruised to an 81-57 victory over Wake Forest yesterday afternoon. The win halted a two-game skid for the Scarlet Knights (7-4, 1-1).

Rutgers played a strong first half both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Knights had eight steals in the first half and forced the Demon Deacons (8-4, 0-1) into 12 turnovers, for which Rutgers turned into 16 points. The Knights also shot 58.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. 

With 3:44 left in the first half, fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell made two free throws to give Rutgers a 17-point lead. Wake Forest was able to respond and went on a 7-0 run to close the half and entered halftime only down 10 points. McConnell had a strong first half, scoring 10 points to go along with two steals.

The Knights opened the first half on a 12-2 run and possessed a 55-35 lead with 16:12 left in the game. The Demon Deacons continued to have no answers to the zone press and physicality that Rutgers was applying.

“I thought that they physically overwhelmed us,” said Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes after the game.

Tyree Appleby, who is averaging 18 points per game this season, had 0 points in the second half and only 10 points all game. Appleby struggled to find open space when being guarded by McConnell.

With Appleby on the bench in foul trouble, the Demon Deacons struggled to score and the Knights continued shooting well throughout the game to clinch the 81-57 win.

Rutgers shot 58.5 percent from the field, its highest shooting percentage since shooting 59.3 percent versus Niagara on Nov. 10, 2019. The Knights finished the game with 14 steals, four blocks and forced 22 Wake Forest turnovers. 

A bright spot for the Demon Deacons was Damari Monsanto, who finished the game with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from three-point range.

Senior guard Cam Spencer led Rutgers with 15 points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Spencer also added two steals and three assists. Junior center Clifford Omoruyi dominated inside for the Knights, scoring 14 points and securing nine rebounds despite six turnovers.

Rutgers will look to start a new winning streak when it faces off against Bucknell on Friday. The game will tip off at 5 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

“What I keep saying is this team is a different dynamic. What I never said is that I really find this team special,” McConnell said. “I find this team can really go far this year and is probably one of the better teams I have played on just because we have played together. Anybody can have a good night. I feel like if we play with energy, we can beat anybody.” 

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

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