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Rutgers men's basketball rides hot 2nd-half start to defeat Georgetown

Senior center Clifford Omoruyi made a big impact on the defensive side of the ball in Rutgers men’s basketball’s win over Georgetown. – Photo by Evan Leong

The Rutgers men's basketball team defeated Georgetown 71-60 in the Gavitt Games match on Wednesday night. 

Fans of the Scarlet Knights (3-1, 0-0) nearly blew the roof off of Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus within the first 10 seconds of play after senior center Clifford Omoruyi finished an alley-oop directly after the jump ball. Rutgers followed that up by forcing a turnover on the inbound pass and getting another dunk from Omoruyi to put it up 4-0.

Freshman guard Gavin Griffiths was the first player to come off the bench for the Knights, and he made his mark with approximately 12 minutes to play in the half when he hit a three-point shot. He immediately followed up the long-range shot with a mid-range jumper off the dribble to give Rutgers a 7-point lead.

Griffiths' spark off the bench gave his team a boost as freshman guard Jamichael Davis was the next Knight to nail a three-pointer, followed by another three-point shot from Griffiths to give Rutgers an 8-point lead with approximately 9 minutes to go. The freshmen duo put on a show in the first 12 minutes, combining for 17 of the Knights' first 27 points. 

After Rutgers built a 13-point lead, the Hoyas (1-2, 0-0) made a couple of three-point shots and began to play better defense to cut their deficit to just 5 points with approximately 5 minutes left in the first half. Georgetown would keep pushing, and Dontrez Styles knocked down another shot from beyond the arc to make the score 31-29, favoring the Knights. Styles had a strong first half for the Hoyas, leading the team with 15 points.

In the final seconds of the half, sophomore guard Derek Simpson missed a fastbreak layup, but Griffiths was there to clean things up with an emphatic putback slam dunk to give Rutgers a 38-32 lead at halftime. 

The Knights shot 40.6 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and 63.6 percent from the free throw line in the first half.

Rutgers opened up the second half on fire. Through approximately 4 minutes of play, fifth-year guard Noah Fernandes and senior forward Aundre Hyatt each drained two three-point shots to give the team an 18-point lead. 

The impressive three-point shooting did not translate to the charity stripe, though, as the Knights missed their first four free throws before sophomore forward Antwone Woolfolk sunk a pair with just less than 12 minutes left in the game.

After building an early second-half lead, Rutgers was able to hold on the rest of the way. With less than 3 minutes left to play, Georgetown cut its deficit to just 11 points, but that was the closest the score got in the final 10 minutes of the game. 

In the final minute, Simpson put the exclamation mark on the win with a crossover that dropped Donovan Grant to the floor. Simpson led the Knights with 15 points and dished out four assists. The home crowd was deafeningly loud the entire night, and the arena erupted for Simpson's closing bucket.

"Shoutout to the fans," Simpson said. "They show up, they show support regardless, win or loss."

Rutgers will now begin preparing for Saturday's home game against Howard. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and broadcast on Big Ten Plus and 88.7 WRSU FM.

"Great night, good win, and we're onto the next one," said head coach Steve Pikiell.

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

To view more of Camden Markel's work, follow @CamdenMarkel on X.

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