The Rutgers men’s basketball team will take on Penn State tomorrow night. The game will take place at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus as the Scarlet Knights (13-6, 5-3) look to get their fourth Big Ten home win this season.
Rutgers is coming off a 70-57 road loss against Michigan State. The Knights struggled to shoot throughout the game, only shooting 11.8 percent from the three-point line and 34.4 percent from the field.
Rutgers also struggled to defend against the three-point shot as the Spartans (13-6, 5-3) shot 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. The game demonstrated an uncharacteristically defensive performance from the Knights as they typically only allowed their opponents to shoot 29.7 percent from three-point range on average. Rutgers also did not generate its usual pressure, as it usually forces opponents into 14.9 turnovers a game, but the game against Michigan State only resulted in 10 turnovers.
The Knights will need a strong performance from their defense when they play the Nittany Lions (13-6, 4-4) who are top 26 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Rutgers will also need to focus its defensive efforts on the three-point line, as Penn State leads the Big Ten with an average of 27.8 three-point attempts per game, and it shoots 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. Five players on the team shoot above 40 percent from the three-point range.
The Nittany Lions are led by senior guard Jalen Pickett. Pickett leads the team in points, rebounds and assists, as he averages 17.4 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game and 7.2 assists per game. The offense runs through Pickett, and fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell will most likely be tasked with guarding him.
These two teams last met in the Knight's final regular season game last year. In that game, Rutgers squeaked out a 59-58 victory to secure its place in last year's NCAA Tournament.
The battle in the paint will be key for the Knights on offense. Penn State boasts a smaller lineup with its tallest player being 6’10. Junior center Clifford Omoruyi is averaging a double-double a game and will look to assert himself on the offensive side of the ball and on the glass.
Rutgers will also need senior guard Cam Spencer to shoot well. Despite seeing many open opportunities to shoot, Spencer struggled to shoot the ball against the Spartans. If the Knights want to defeat the Nittany Lions, they are going to need Spencer's shooting.
The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.
"This is a league that, you don't just stand in the center of the ring and win fights all the time. You got to get knocked down and get back up," said head coach Steve Pikiell after the loss against Michigan State. "It's one thing I think we've done a pretty good job of, and if you don't do that in this league, it can be a humbling league. We have to keep getting back up, keep getting back up and get ready for the obstacle."
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