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Rutgers men's basketball comes up short against Michigan State in road match

Junior center Cliff Omoruyi, fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell and the Rutgers men's basketball team struggled to shoot and ultimately lost to Michigan State. – Photo by @RutgersMBB / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to Michigan State 70-57 tonight. With the loss, the Scarlet Knights (13-6, 5-3) remain winless at the Breslin Center.

Rutgers started the game strong, jumping out to a 14-5 lead in the first 5 minutes of the first half. The Spartans (13-6, 5-3) would respond with a 12-2 run to take a 1-point lead with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. The game would continue to go back and forth in the first half as both teams struggled to get defensive stops. Michigan State ended the half on an 11-4 run and took a 36-30 lead into halftime.

Tyson Walker led the Spartans with 9 points at the half.

Michigan State led for the entirety of the second half. For the majority of the half, the Knights were able to keep the Spartans close but failed to have a large enough scoring run to take the lead. With nearly 14 minutes remaining in the second half, a layup from freshman forward Antwone Woolfolk cut the deficit to 2 points, but Michigan State went on a 7-0 scoring run to reestablish its comfortable lead.

With 3:43 left in the second, a made jumper from Jaxon Kohler gave the Spartans a double-digit lead, and Rutgers was never able to close the gap. A.J. Hoggard had a strong game for Michigan State, scoring 16 points and dishing out seven assists.

The Knights were strong on the glass gathering in 18 offensive rebounds and eight more total rebounds than the Spartans. Rutgers converted those 18 offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points.

Despite their dominance on the offensive glass, the Knights trailed for the majority of the game due to their poor close-out defense and shooting. Michigan State shot 54.5 percent from beyond the arc as its opponents failed to close out many three-point attempts. When they did close out on the three-point attempts, the Spartans were able to hit a number of closely contested shots.

In contrast, Rutgers shot a miserable 11.8 percent from the three-point line, and the team only shot 34.4 percent from the field. The poor shooting performance was due in part to senior guard Cam Spencer going ice cold. Despite having many open looks, Spencer shot only 3-14 from the field and 1-8 from beyond the arc. Fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell was not much better, only shooting 4-11 from the field and 1-4 from the three-point line.

Junior center Clifford Omoruyi and senior guard Paul Mulcahy played well in the loss. Omoruyi had another double-double, scoring 12 points and getting 12 rebounds. Omoruyi was imposing on both the offensive and defensive glass. Mulcahy scored 12 points on an efficient 5-8 from the field. Mulcahy also added four assists.

The Knights will look to rebound when they come back home to take on Penn State. The game will tip off on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"Give Michigan State a ton of credit. Coach Tom Izzo does a great job, and they really shot the ball extremely well," said head coach Steve Pikiell. "Their transition hurt us, and we got some good looks too. You have got to make a few on the road. You got to play better than that on the road to beat a Hall of Fame coach with the fan base here and a tough place to play. I liked our effort — we outrebounded them, and we got a season-high 18 offensive rebounds."

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

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