It has been over eight months since we last had college basketball to watch, but it’s finally back! There was a lot of action on opening day of the 2020-21 season inside the Top 25, including an 86-63 victory by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights over the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
Rutgers entered the season ranked No. 24 in the nation, and getting a win in its first game will do a lot for the team’s confidence moving forward. The Scarlet Knights have a lot of hope this season to make some noise in March Madness, but they’ll need to continue playing well to make that happen.
The Scarlet Knights were consistent on offense, scoring 40 points in the first half and 46 points in the second half. On the other hand, their defense started to let up in the second half, giving up 38 points — opposed to the 25 given up in the first half.
Mathis, Omoruyi, Harper Jr. Steal the Show
Three players stole the show for Rutgers on Wednesday night — Montez Mathis, Ron Harper Jr., and Cliff Omoruyi. They combined for 49 of the team’s 86 points and shot 23-of-39 from the field. If these three can continue this style of dominance, Rutgers will be a tough team to beat.
Harper Jr. led the way with 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and one block. Mathis added 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, and three steals, while Omoruyi added a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and one steal.
The one thing this team can use a little more of is shooting from three-point range. The Knights only made one on the night, which came from Mathis.
They only took eight shots from beyond the arc as a team, half of which came from Mathis. Rutgers’ inside game is strong, but it’s the team’s outside game that needs work.
Baker Injured in First Half
It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for Rutgers. With just four minutes remaining in the first half, the team lost senior guard Geo Baker to a bad ankle injury. The team is hoping it doesn’t keep him out long, but you never know with ankle injuries.
Baker only played nine minutes and recorded just one point, one rebound, and one assist in that time. He’s part of the reason why their three-point shooting was non-existent.
The good news is Paul Mulcahy stepped up and played some big minutes off the bench. He wasn’t expected to play 33 minutes (which led the team), but he turned in a productive performance with 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals on 7-of-7 shooting.
Fairleigh Dickinson Next on Schedule
The Scarlet Knights have the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights up next on their schedule. The game is set for Friday.
Fairleigh Dickinson lost its first game of the season 84-66 to the Quinnipiac Bobcats. It should be a fairly easy game for Rutgers.
Looking ahead, the Knights have a game against Syracuse on Dec. 8 and several meetings with ranked teams — starting with Illinois on Dec. 20. They’re also scheduled to play Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.