Rutgers was on the road tonight against a surging Northwestern team that looked similar to the Crimson Knights. Rutgers held a 10-point lead more than halfway through the second half, but was unable to close out Northwestern as a series of late 3-pointers helped the Wildcats retake the lead. But Cam Spencer hit again with a late 3-pointer to help Rutgers win 65-62. Rutgers is now 12-5, and here’s how the latest win went down.
The starting five
It doesn’t look like head coach Steve Pikiell will mess with his starting lineup. From here on out, the look of the starting five will likely be the same as it was and was tonight. Paul Mulcahy took the floor with Caleb McConnell, Cliff Omoruyi, Cam Spencer and Mawot Maga.
Cam Spencer. Once again, he was Mr. Reliable and the most consistent offensive player on the team. He hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch and sealed the game with a pair of free throws.
Mawot Mag: 9 points 1 sk 1 assist
Caleb McConnell: 4 points 4 rebounds 2 assists 2 stl
Cam Spencer: 23 points 4 sk 2 ass 1 stl 1 blk
Cliff Omoruyi: 4 pts 11 rebs 3 asst 2 blks
Paul Mulcahy: 12 points 7 rebounds 5 assists 1 blk 2 stls
Aundre Hyatt: 10 points 3 rebounds 2 assists 1 blk
Derek Simpson: 1 stl
Dean Reiber: 3 points 1 stl
Have you noticed…
—Rutgers extended its lead to 19-11 in the first half, but was unable to build on it thanks to three bad offensive possessions that resulted in bad 3-pointers by McConnell and Spencer. The third missed opportunity came after a weak move by Omoruyi towards the basket. Rutgers also came up empty the next two times down the field.
— Four of the five starters played 17 minutes or more in the first half as Pikiell relied on his primary players. Mulcahy played 19 minutes, Spencer 18, while Omoruyi and McConnell played 17 minutes each.
—The bench came alive in the second half when Derek Simpson ripped to the basket and dropped a pass to Dean Reiber, who was fouled on a dunk. He would make one of two free throws, but it was a game that showed a lot of reserve energy. But that didn’t last because Simpson and Reiber were ineffective in the following minutes.
—Rutgers and Northwestern looked like very similar teams, thriving on fast-paced plays and stout defense while also hitting dry spells from the perimeter.
—Rutgers needed a timeout, holding a 52-51 lead because the team was out of sync. Instead of that. Mulcahy drove and found an open McConnell for three. But he hit from the front, which is symbolic of him being shot from the outside all night. After Northwestern’s bucket for the lead, Rutgers finally got that timeout.
Mark the reel
Tonight’s highlight comes courtesy of Omoruyi, who completes a dunk after receiving a great dish from Mag.
CLIFF OMORUYI??@wizcliff77 x @RutgersMBB pic.twitter.com/s8LbmhdxMf
— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) January 12, 2023
Rutgers will return home to face Ohio State on Sunday beginning at 2:15 p.m. Ohio State has lost its last two games to Purdue and Maryland and now holds a 10-5 record. The Buckeyes beat Rutgers earlier this season, 67-66, on a controversial last-second 3-pointer that came after a pair of apparent blown decisions by the officials, leading to an official apology from the Big Ten the day after.