Lafayette (0-4) at Rutgers (3-1)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Monday, November 22 at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: BTN+ - Dom Savino and Tim Catalfamo
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers - No. 79, six spots worse following a 73-70 loss to DePaul; Lafayette - No. 315, two spots worse since a 88-55 loss to Duke.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 103.3 (111th) Defense 93.1 (50th); Lafayette - Offense 95.5 (264th) Defense 108.8 (339th)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 78 Lafayette 59. Rutgers is given a 96% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Rutgers -21
Series History: Rutgers leads the all-time series 69-47 and has played Lafayette more than any other opponent in program history with the exception of Princeton. They last met on December 22, 2019 with Rutgers winning 63-44.
Lafayette - 6’7” sophomore Kyle Jenkins: 14.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 36.0% 3-pt shooting; 6’2” senior Tyrone Perry: 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists; 39.3% 3-pt shooting; 6’7” junior Leo O’Boyle: 9.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 32.0% 3-pt shooting; 7’0” junior Neal Quinn: 9.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 blocks; 6’2” freshman CJ Fulton: 5.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 36.4% 3-pt shooting
Rutgers - 6’6” senior Ron Harper Jr.: 16.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 33.3% 3-pt shooting; 6’4” senior Geo Baker: 13.3 points, 4.8 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 40.0% 3-pt shooting; 6’11” sophomore Cliff Omoruyi: 10.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 60.0% FG shooting; 6’6” sophomore Aundre Hyatt: 8.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 assists; 6’6” junior Paul Mulcahy: 6.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 6’8” freshman Jaden Jones: 5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 66.7% FG shooting; 6’7” senior Caleb McConnell: 3.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals
Head coach Fran O’Hanlon is in his 27th season and the Leopards are off to a 0-4 start having lost to Cornell and UPenn from the Ivy League, as well as ACC schools Syracuse and Duke. Their last time out was an 88-55 defeat at Duke last Friday, but they only trailed by single digits at halftime.
Lafayette shoots a ton of three-pointers, having attempted 33 per game through four contests. The issue is they are only making 31.8% from deep and thus are shooting just 36.9% from the floor overall. However, it’s in part because they only shoot 42.0% from two-point range as well. They are shooting 77.4% from the foul line but are averaging less than 8 attempts per game.
The Leopards don’t rebound well, don’t force turnovers and don’t defend the three well either. The best thing they do is not foul on defense and and while opponents don’t have long possessions against them, it’s more because they are allowing them to score easily as they are allowing 90.0 points per game.
Keys To Victory
This game should be about getting back to basics and improving on them after the loss to DePaul last Thursday. It was obviously a disappointing result, but some easily correctable issues were the root cause.
Being overly aggressive and fouling too much on the defensive end and a lack of ball movement on the offensive end were the biggest issues. A big reason for the free throw discrepancy was the unwillingness of the Scarlet Knights to attack the rim and settle for jump shots.
This is an opponent Rutgers should dominate in every phase. Closing out on shooters from along the three-point line is the key to containing Lafayette on the offensive end. RU should dominate the boards and limit the Leopards to many one shot possessions.
If the Scarlet Knights come out focused on the defensive end and intent on crashing the glass, this game could be over quickly. However, Lafayette showed they could hang with Duke in the first half at Cameron so a lack of discipline could result in another uncomfortably close game.
Ron Harper Jr. and Cliff Omoruyi should be relatively unstoppable in the post and should be fed early and often in the halfcourt. Work inside out and share the basketball, which will wear out Lafayette on the defensive end. If they do that, open shots will be there.
This game is a great opportunity for younger players like Jaden Jones and Mawot Mag to get extended minutes. While both have shown flashes, particularly Jones offensively, they both have to be better defensively to stay on the court. I know the calls for Jones to play more and even start are growing louder, but the reality is his minutes won’t increase until he improves on the defensive end.
The thing I’ll be looking for the most with this team tonight is their body language and energy to start the game. The veteran leaders need to make sure this team comes out with urgency and if Rutgers is sharper tonight, that’s a really good sign. If they are sluggish and shot selection is still poor while still over fouling on the defensive end, it would be concerning. Look for Geo Baker to handle the rock early and control the flow. He has a 2.7 to 1 assist to turnover ratio through four games.
I discovered this song on WFUV 90.7 (support public radio) and it gets stuck in my head when my 3 year old throws a temper tantrum. It also applies to what Rutgers needs to do in this game tonight.
Responding in a positive way by delivering a sharp performance that focuses on the things Rutgers needs to do to win long term would be an encouraging sign. Solid defense, controlling the boards and the paint, while getting to the line and making free throws are all things this team needs to do every time out on the court. Doing it against a sub-300 defense is not as challenging as a Big Ten foe of course, but you have to start somewhere.
I’m also superstitious and tweeted to just figure it out after the loss to St. Bonaventure after the fourth game two seasons ago. At any rate, here is a unique live performance from Blu DeTiger who makes the message clear: Figure it out!