For Rutgers, the solution to a pair of gut-wrenching losses was a complete performance against a quality non-conference opponent.
Rutgers hopes to produce another complete showing Friday when it hosts Bucknell in Piscataway, N.J.
On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights (7-4) responded to a controversial one-point loss at Ohio State (Dec. 8) and a two-point setback to Seton Hall (Dec. 11) with an impressive 81-57 win over Wake Forest.
“A lot of good things,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “I’m proud of these guys, it hasn’t been easy.”
The Scarlet Knights shot an impressive 58.5 percent — their highest since shooting 59.3 percent against Niagara on Nov. 10, 2019. Rutgers also dominated inside by outscoring Wake Forest 44-16 in the paint, and scored 22 points off 26 turnovers.
“It was a big game for us to bounce back from the last week or so,” Rutgers guard Paul Mulcahy said. “Just being out there, we were having fun.”
Cam Spencer led the Scarlet Knights with 15 points. Clifford Omoruyi added 14 and nine rebounds, while Caleb McConnell contributed 13.
Bucknell (7-5) is facing its second opponent from a major conference after a 65-61 loss on Nov. 18, when it held Georgia to 33 percent. The Bison own the Patriot League’s second-best scoring defense at 65.4 points but have lost two of three games by allowing over 80 points to Atlantic 10 foes LaSalle and Richmond.
On Wednesday, Bucknell trailed by 16 by halftime and took an 81-71 setback at Richmond. Leading scorer Xander Rice scored 19 points but the Bison committed 15 turnovers.
“I thought we played pretty well for about 32 minutes tonight, but that eight-minute stretch late in the first half was the difference,” Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said. “You can’t have those lapses, especially on the road against a very good team.”
Rutgers leads the all-time series 22-8 and has won 14 straight meetings.
–Field Level Media