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Rutgers men's basketball grinds out win over Wisconsin

Junior forward Aundre Hyatt scored 8 points, secured nine rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked two shots in a crucial road win over Wisconsin. – Photo by Steve Apps /

The Rutgers men’s basketball team earned a hard-fought victory over Wisconsin yesterday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights (17-10, 8-7) scored the final 4 points of the game to win by a score of 58-57.

The game started with a back-and-forth offensive showdown, with five lead changes in just the first half. Rutgers was led by senior guard Cam Spencer who scored 19 of the 36 points in the first half. The Badgers (15-11, 7-9) had no answer for Spencer’s shooting prowess, as he shot 6-7 from the field and 5-6 from beyond the arc in the first half.

As a team, the Knights shot 56.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range in the first half.

Wisconsin also put on a strong shooting performance in the first half, shooting 48 percent from the field and 42.8 percent from three-point range. Jordan Davis came off the bench and led the Badgers with 11 points in the first half.

Rutgers led by 7 points with just more than 1:30 left in the first half, but a 5-0 run for its opponent gave the Knights a lead of just 2 points as they headed into halftime with a score of 36-34.

The game flipped and became a defensive battle in the second half. Rutgers only made one three-point shot and shot 34.9 percent from the field in the second half. Wisconsin shot 6-22 from beyond the arc but only made a single shot from the two-point range in the second half.

The Knights often chose to double up on defense when the Badgers forwards got the ball in the post. Subsequently, Wisconsin’s guards got a good amount of open shooting opportunities from three-point range, a majority of which they did not successfully make.

With less than 4 minutes remaining and the score tied at 54-54, Kamari McGee hit a three-point shot to give the Badgers the 3-point lead. Rutgers responded more than a minute later when junior center Clifford Omoruyi got a dunk to cut their deficit to 1 point.

After another defensive stand, the Knights got the ball back, and freshman guard Derek Simpson drove to the paint and put up a contested layup. Though the layup did not fall, junior forward Aundre Hyatt was there to get the putback dunk and put his team up by 1 point with 1:08 remaining in the game.

Wisconsin had a chance to win the game with 11 seconds left, but Connor Essegian’s floater was too strong, and his following three-point shot was blocked by Omoruyi to seal the win for Rutgers.

There were 13 lead changes in the entire game, and neither team led by more than 6 points in the second half.

Chucky Hepburn only played 23 minutes for the Badgers due to foul trouble.

Spencer ended the game with 22 points and shot 6-10 from three-point range. 

Though Omoruyi struggled to score, just shooting 5-12 from the field and missing a couple of point-blank shots, he still ended with 12 points, eight rebounds and two crucial blocks. Omoruyi also played 37 out of the possible 40 minutes.

The Knights are now 9-0 in the Big Ten when they hold their opponents to 65 points or less.

Rutgers will look to start a new winning streak when it comes back home to take on Michigan. The game will be a black out. Tip-off will be on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"Our defense came back, we haven’t been playing Rutgers defense the last few games," said Head coach Steve Pikiell. "But proud of our guys, we were down a couple of guys, and everyone checked in, did some great things. But you know, just another Big Ten grind."

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

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