Make it six.
The Rutgers men’s basketball team won 8th-10th Indiana 63-48 at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway on Saturday.
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Rutgers (6-2, 1-0) extends his winning streak against Indiana (7-1, 0-1) to six games and eight of nine. It was also the Scarlet Knights’ first ranked win of the year and their first top-10 triumph since they were ranked No. 1 at JMA on Dec. 9 at the top of Purdue. Head Coach Steve Pikiell now has 14 ranked wins since taking the helm for the Scarlet Knights.
Paul Mulcahy returned for Rutgers after missing four games with what Rutgers called a “stinger,” while Hoosier’s five-star freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino failed. Hood-Schifino averages 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
Indiana led only 2:41 of the game.
The Scarlet Knights prevailed in the second half with a 17-0, 19-2 run. Ten of those points in a row were scored by freshman Derek Simpson. That followed a 9-0 run from Indiana. The rookie was 0-for-6 shooting with no points for the first 20 minutes.
Simpson hit a 3-pointer, two layups, a jumper and a foul shot to ignite his team and the sold-out crowd.
Indiana came back into play with two Trayce Jackson-Davis buckets and another 3-pointer from Miller Kopp, but Caleb McConnell sunk two free throws and Omoruyi blocked a shot at the other end.
Simpson stuck the dagger in the Hoosiers from the top of the button with a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down with 2:25 left.
The Hoosiers took a 35-33 lead after the break thanks to a good restart. Xavier Johnson and Kopp hit a pair of 3-pointers, and then Johnson made a transition jump to line up his team. A Mulcahy basketball halted the surge.
Rutgers led by seven points at halftime, 31-24, despite having 11 fouls on Indiana’s six, which forced Omoruyi to the bench early. The Scarlet Knights’ defense kept the Hoosiers on 28.6 shots in the first 20 minutes and the visitors only made 5 of 10 free throws.
The home team didn’t shoot much better in the first half (32.4%), but their strong defense and rebounds kept Indiana at bay.
fouls– Officials certainly didn’t help Rutgers early. Cliff Omoruyi went on the bench with two fouls after just over five minutes and the Scarlet Knights were called for five fouls before the U16 time-out. Rutgers was called for 11 fouls in the first half, but Indiana only made 5 of 10 free throws. Omoruyi only returned in the second half.
Offensive rebounding — Rutgers was again the tougher team compared to the Hoosiers. The Scarlet Knights attacked the glass in full force, passing Indiana 28-18 in the first half and 47-33 in the game. Rutgers also counted 14 offensive boards in the first half and had 17 for the game to just nine for Indiana .
layups: Rutgers’ difficulties with the layup continued into this one. Rutgers made just one of his first six layup attempts.
turning point: Mulcahy returns for Rutgers
This was already an uphill battle with or without the senior point guard, but Mulcahy, who missed the last four games through injury, returned about seven minutes into the contest and promptly grabbed a jump shot. He made another tough layup to end the first half.
Also, Rutgers went on the gargantuan 17-0/19-2 run in the second half to take a 50-37 lead.
Rutgers Player of the Game: G/F Caleb McConnell
The senior, who came back, finished the game with a 16-point double-double, 10 rebounds and two steals with just one foul. Serenity of a Veteran.
RHoop’s game of the day: Steal and Slam Dunk by McConnell
Next: Rutgers travels to Game No. 25 in Ohio State on Thursday, December 8 at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. The game will be shown on ESPN2. Afterward, the Scarlet Knights return home to face rival Seton Hall in the Garden State Hardwood Classic on December 11 at 6:30 p.m