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Rutgers Men's Basketball Game Preview: UMass-Lowell

Rutgers looks to end the non-conference portion of the schedule on a two game winning streak.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch

TV: 7pm on BTN

Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network WOR (710 AM) & WCTC (1450 AM); WRSU (88.7 FM); Sirius Radio channel 134

Injury Update

Deshawn Freeman, Shaq Doorson, and Ibrahima Diallo all remain out indefinitely.

About UMass-Lowell

The River Hawks enter tonight's game with a 4-7 record and have lost three games in a row, including to Central Connecticut State.  However, this team plays up to it's competition, beating Boston College and losing to UCONN by just 9 points in their last game.  They average 75 points a game without a true leading scorer. Instead, they have a balanced attack with seven players averaging between 7.5 and 11.5 points per game.  They have a ten man rotation, which includes six freshman and two sophomores. Freshman Isaac White averages 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal per game and shoots 44% from three-point range.  Their leading scorer and rebounder, Jahad Thomas, is only 6'2" and UMass-Lowell only have two players taller than 6'6". They struggle on defense, especially down low due to their lack of size, and allow opponents to score an average of 81 points a game.

Keys to the Game

Avoid Another Bad Start

Rutgers has had the disturbing trend of starting slow against inferior competition this season.  They were tied at the half against Rutgers-Newark and Central Arkansas, were only up three against Central Connecticut State, and were losing most of the first half to FDU, trailing by 2 points at the break. Ultimately, they won all four of those games, but they need to start strong tonight. With Indiana and Wisconsin on the schedule for later this week, it would be nice to see them come out sharp and take it to UMass-Lowell from the opening tip.  Against Big Ten competition they cannot afford to start games flat and fall behind early.

Get D.J. Foreman the Ball

Foreman only had 6 points against FDU but was 2-2 from the floor, not nearly enough looks at the basket for Rutgers best frontcourt scorer with Freeman out.  Rutgers needs to exploit UMass-Lowell's lack of size down low and pound it inside to Foreman.  He is averaging a solid 8 points and 7 rebounds a game on 48% shooting, but has yet to have a breakout game. This team desperately needs Foreman to become more assertive in the paint on a consistent basis. Tonight should be a big game for him and would be a nice confidence builder before entering league play.

Limit Turnovers

After committing just 9 turnovers in a loss to Monmouth, Rutgers resorted back to their sloppy ways against FDU. They committed 17 turnovers, while FDU only committed 8. Not taking care of the basketball is a recipe for disaster regardless of the opponent, but will certainly get them blown out on a nightly basis in the Big Ten. Corey Sanders has been the best player on the court this season, but needs to reduce his three turnovers per game average. Bishop Daniels continues to struggle with turnovers in bunches, particularly in games where he is not scoring.  They need to clean it up as a team quickly or their 15 turnovers a game will only increase as the competition does as well.

Keep Making Free Throws

Don't look now but Rutgers is actually improving significantly from the free throw line. After shooting just 65% from the line through eight games, Rutgers has made 66 of 88 free throw attempts for 75% in their last four games.  Greg Lewis and D.J. Foreman are the only two players on the active roster that are shooting below 70% for the season. Sanders, Daniels and Mike Williams need to make it a point to get to the line as much as possible. Rutgers needs to take advantage of freebies at the line if they want to keep games close once Big Ten play begins, starting Wednesday at home against Indiana.