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Rutgers men's basketball loses hard-fought game against Purdue

Senior center Clifford Omoruyi grabbed six rebounds and battled with Zach Edey in the paint. – Photo by Evan Leong

The Rutgers men's basketball team fell to Purdue 68-60 on Sunday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights (10-9, 2-6) fought hard but could not overcome their first-half deficit.

Here are four takeaways from the close loss.

First-half shooting struggles

Rutgers played strong defense in the first half, holding Zach Edey to just 10 points and five rebounds, but due to a poor shooting performance, it still found itself down 33-20 heading into halftime.

The Knights shot 26.5 percent from the field, 0 percent from three-point range and missed a multitude of layups and dunks in the first half. Their offense was stagnant, and they committed seven turnovers.

Rutgers did force the Boilermakers (19-2, 8-2) into eight turnovers, which helped the Knights keep the game from getting out of hand early on.

Second-half revival

In the second half, though, Rutgers' offense came alive. The Knights shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 60 percent from the free throw line to help them average 1.29 points per possession. Senior forward Aundre Hyatt led the team with 13 second-half points.

Thanks to Rutgers' offensive outburst, it was able to cut its deficit to just two points when freshman guard Gavin Griffiths drained a jump shot with 5:19 left in the contest.

That would be the closest the Knights got, though, as Braden Smith made a tough layup to bring Purdue's lead back to two possessions, and the Boilermakers would hold on to the victory from there.

Rebounding improves

Both teams battled in the paint throughout the game, but Rutgers came out on top on the glass.

The Knights crucially grabbed nine more offensive rebounds than Purdue and four more total rebounds. Senior center Clifford Omoruyi led Rutgers with six rebounds, but it was a team effort, as four players grabbed more than three rebounds in the contest.

The Knights will look to replicate their rebounding success as the season progresses.

Freshman fuel

Rutgers saw a strong showing from both of its freshmen against the Boilermakers. Griffiths ended with eight crucial points and two rebounds while showcasing improved defensive intensity.

"You look at the stat sheet, and he's 3-for-11 — it seemed like he was 8-for-8," said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. "It's because he gives them that punch off the bench."

Freshman guard Jamichael Davis was a pest on defense and played well with the ball in his hands. Davis scored 9 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists while defending Smith, one of the best guards in the Big Ten.

Both freshmen featured for more than 10 minutes in the second half and will look to round into form in the final two months of the season.

The Knights will look to bounce back against Penn State on Wednesday at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus. The game will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"I thought we had our chances in the game," said head coach Steve Pikiell. "It's a tough team to prepare for. It's a tough team to play. Not many people have a 7-foot-5 guy that catches everything, makes free throws and does what he does. I was pleased with our effort, and we've got to just continue to get better."

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

To view more of Ellis Gordon's work, follow @EllisVGordon on X.

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