How To Watch & Listen
NJIT (5-3) At Rutgers (6-3)
Where: The RAC (capacity 8,000)
Tip-off: Thursday, December 7th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Stream: BTN Plus (subscription required) - Kevin Fitzgerald & Dom Savino
Radio: WCTC 1450 AM & WOR 710 AM - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #112; NJIT #267
(Note: Rutgers moved back one spot since 10 point loss to Michigan State)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 70 NJIT 58; Rutgers 87% chance to win
Series History: Rutgers leads all-time series 5-0
The Highlanders won’t be intimidated by Rutgers tonight, as they are playing its third high major opponent of the season. They previously lost to ranked foes Seton Hall and West Virginia by at least 29 points. NJIT’s best win this season is a 12 point win over Drexel. They are averaging 75 points a game and shoot the basketball relatively well, as they are averaging 48% from the field and 37% from three-point range. They are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in Division I though, making just 62%.
Here are stats for key players on NJIT:
6’6” sophomore guard Anthony Tarke - 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals
6’2” junior guard Diandre Wilson - 11.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.3 assists
6’9” junior forward Abdul Lewis - 10.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists
Know Your Three-Point Shooters:
Diandre Wilson - 10 of 21 for 48%
Zach Cooks - 9 of 21 for 43%
Anthony Tarke - 8 of 32 for 25%
Keys To Victory
Avoid A Letdown
After three consecutive games against top 30 competition, Rutgers now has seven straight non-conference games ahead of them before Big Ten play resumes. Tonight's game is the third contest in five days and with a low major team visiting, Rutgers cannot afford to lay an egg. Forward progress is needed and setting the tone in the first ten minutes of this game is crucial. They have the ability to dominate NJIT and it would be reassuring for them to do that tonight. If they come out flat and get in a dog fight in this game, disaster could occur, as local teams always play Rutgers hard. The maturity and focus of this team will be tested in this game. How they respond will tell us a lot about their resolve.
After committing 14 turnovers in back to back games against Florida State and Minnesota, Rutgers did a much better job against Michigan State. They committed just 10 turnovers and held a +5 turnover margin against the Spartans. NJIT is actually forcing opponent turnovers at a rate of 22.2% (53rd in Div I) and have a steal rate of 11.7% (28th in Div I). The easiest way for the Highlanders to make this a game is for Rutgers to be sloppy with the basketball and commit a bunch of turnovers. The backcourt of Geo Baker and Corey Sanders need to play a relatively clean game. This goes back to focus and minimizing unforced errors. On the flip side, NJIT averages 15 turnovers a game and Rutgers needs to exploit that tendency.
Get Veteran Core Going
Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman need to take the lead in this game by asserting their will on NJIT. Both have struggled the past two games and they’ll have a great opportunity to get back on track. Attacking the rim and finishing is essential. Mike Williams looked more like himself against Michigan State (8 points, 7 rebounds), but it would be nice to see him make some shots from the perimeter tonight. It’s so important for all three players to find a rhythm in the next three games before blood rival Seton Hall visits the RAC in ten days, as well as not allowing for a bad loss to an inferior opponent before then.
No Easy Baskets
NJIT is not a good offensive team, as they have an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 95.8 (307th in Division I). They are susceptible to blocked shots and they are a poor shooting team from the free throw line (62%). Rutgers was superb defending the rim against Michigan State and that needs to continue tonight. The big men need to avoid foul trouble, but at the same time, not allowing for easy baskets and forcing NJIT to make free throw’s would make it harder on its opponent. The key tonight is to not have defensive breakdowns and to build off of Tuesday’s strong effort.
Dominate Glass on Both Ends
NJIT is not a good rebounding team and Rutgers has the opportunity to dominate the boards tonight. Rutgers held up well rebounding wise the past three games against superior opponents, so they need to bring energy to the floor tonight and continue to have an emphasis on the glass. NJIT is not a big team and can’t match the athleticism of Rutgers. This game will be dictated by how the Scarlet Knights attack the glass and rebound the basketball.
In The Bonus
The crowd at the RAC recently has been amazing and it’s important our fans continue to show up and support this team throughout December. Here is what coach Pikiell has to say about it: