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Rutgers men's basketball exacts revenge in overtime victory against Ohio State

Junior forward Mawot Mag helped lead the Rutgers men’s basketball team to victory with a 15 point performance and a game-clinching bucket.  – Photo by @RutgersMBB / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team earned a hard-fought 68-64 overtime victory against Ohio State this afternoon. With the win, the Scarlet Knights (13-5, 5-2) split the two-game series with the Buckeyes (10-7, 2-4) and hold a half-game advantage for second place in the Big Ten.

The first half was another physical and defensive half. Rutgers struggled to score right out of the gate and Ohio State took an 11-point lead with 11:07 left to play in the first half.

The Knights fought back and cut the deficit to 3 points with just under five minutes to go in the half. Both teams would only score 3 points in the final five minutes of the half and the Buckeyes took a 23-20 lead into halftime.

Head Coach Steve Pikiell was assessed with a technical foul in the half. It is only Pikiell’s second technical foul of his career. Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell had a strong first half scoring 6 points and corralling in six rebounds.

The defensive effort continued in the second half with both teams trading buckets throughout the half. For the majority of the second half, both teams' leads never exceeded one possession.

With just under two minutes left, junior center Clifford Omoruyi converted an alley-oop to give Rutgers a 2-point lead. Brice Sensabaugh responded for Ohio State with a midrange shot to tie the game up at 57-57. 

Sensabaugh had a chance to win it for the Buckeyes but his three-point shot would not fall. Senior guard Cam Spencer rebounded the ball with four seconds and a chance to win the game but his three-point shot to beat the buzzer did not fall.

The teams continued to trade baskets in the overtime period and the Knights took a 1 point lead on an Omoruyi layup with 1:34 left in overtime. After another defensive stop for Rutgers, junior forward Mawot Mag hit a corner three with the shot clock winding down to give the Knights a four-point lead.

Rutgers would hold on to that lead for the rest of the game and exact its revenge for its controversial loss the last time these two teams played.

Despite only shooting 2-7 from beyond the arc, Spencer led the team with 21 points. Spencer also added seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

“I tried to stay aggressive. The threes weren’t falling but they felt good. Got to take the mental game out of shooting just keep shooting. That is my mindset,” said Spencer. “Just really proud of my teammates, they were able to find me and get me good looks.”

Mag had his best game in a Knights uniform. Mag scored 15 points, shooting 5-6 from the field. Mag also got eight rebounds and a block. Sensabaugh led Ohio State with 20 points.

Rutgers got to the free throw line 27 times converting on 20 of those attempts. Free throws accounted for just under 33 percent of the Knights' points and were a reason for their success in the game.

Rutgers will look to extend its winning streak to three games when it travels to the Breslin Center to take on Michigan State. The game will tip off on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

“The ball was not going in early but we just stayed the course, hung with it. Our defense always gives us a chance. Just real proud they all made big plays,” said Pikiell. “Paul does what Paul does, Cliff gets a double-double…Just a really great team win.”

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

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