The Rutgers men's basketball team will return to action on Monday when it faces Saint Peter's at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus. The Scarlet Knights (4-1, 0-0) are coming into this game riding a four-game winning streak and have not played in more than a week.
Rutgers has been on a roll since falling 68-61 in its season opener to Princeton. While it took a few games, the Knights' offense is coming alive in recent contests and in their wins over Boston University and Bryant after previously struggling against the Tigers (6-0, 0-0).
After averaging approximately 65 points per game (PPG) through its first three games, Rutgers' offense scored 71 points and 85 points respectively in its last two outings.
While the Knights' offense started slow, the defense has been steady. Rutgers currently sits at No. 9 in the entire nation in scoring defense, allowing its opponents to score just 58.6 PPG. The Knights also force approximately 16 turnovers per game, the 39th-highest in the NCAA.
The Peacocks (1-3, 0-0) are coming into this game with a subpar record but have had a few close losses, including a 1-point loss to Fairleigh Dickinson University and an 8-point loss to UMass-Lowell. Saint Peter’s also hung tough against a strong Seton Hall team, losing 70-59. The Peacocks' only win came in a 75-48 victory against the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Saint Peter's boasts a balanced attack on offense, as it currently has four different players averaging more than 10 PPG. While the Peacocks get scoring from many different areas, Rutgers will need to hone in on Latrell Reid. The senior leads Saint Peter's in minutes played and has been scoring efficiently, shooting 45.7 percent from the field.
The Knights also have four players averaging more than 10 PPG. Rutgers' leading scorer is senior forward Aundre Hyatt, who is averaging 12.8 PPG, but the team has had a different leading scorer in 4 of its 5 games so far.
Sophomore guard Derek Simpson has led the Knights in scoring twice this season. Simpson scored team-highs of 23 points against Howard and 15 against Georgetown after combining for just 16 points across his first three games.
With Simpson starting to heat up, the rest of Rutgers' offense will look to follow suit.
The Knights have not shot well from three-point range this season, as they have shot more than 30 percent in just one game. Monday's matchup may present an opportunity to improve on this mark, as the Peacocks' opponents have made at least 30 percent of their three-pointers in every game so far.
Rutgers should be favored heading into this game but cannot take the feisty in-state opponent lightly.
The game will tip off on Monday at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus and 88.7 WRSU FM.
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