UPDATE: Per a release, the game has been postponed due to Covid cases with Rutgers
“Due to COVID-19 protocols and out of an abundance of caution, the Saturday, Dec. 18 game against Rider at Jersey Mike’s Arena will be rescheduled to a later date.”
Note: Every member of Rutgers men’s basketball is fully vaccinated.
Rider (3-8) at Rutgers (5-5)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, New Jersey (Capacity 8.000)
Tip-off: Saturday, December 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Promotion: Rutgers is honoring the 1983 and 1991 NCAA Tournament teams at halftime
TV: BTN - Wayne Randazzo and Len Elmore
Stream: FOX Sports/BTN
NET Rankings: Rutgers No. 164; Rider No. 310
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers - No. 102, seven spots worse following Sunday’s 77-63 loss to Seton Hall; Rider - No. 288, nine spots worse since a 79-67 loss to Marist on Sunday.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 102.2 (143rd) Defense 94.7 (66th); Rider - Offense 94.2 (296th) Defense 104.5 (262nd)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 73 Rider 58. Rutgers is given a 92% chance to win.
Series History: Rutgers holds a 15-1 advantage all-time against Rider with the last meeting on December 28, 2012 resulting in a 68-56 victory for the Scarlet Knights.
Rider: 6’0” senior Dwight Murray Jr. - 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals; 6’5” senior Dimencio Vaughn - 12.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 34.4% 3-pt FG; 6’7” junior Mervin James - 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 steal; 6’2” junior Allen Powell - 7.7 points, 2.0 assists, 1.7 rebounds; 6’8” senior Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson - 6.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 52.0% FG; 6’7” sophomore Nehemiah Benson - 5.3 points, 3.2 rebounds; 6’2” sophomore Corey McKeithan - 5.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assist; 6’2” junior Sedrick Altman - 3.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists
Rutgers: 6’6” senior Ron Harper Jr. - 15.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 39.6% 3-pt FG; 6’11” sophomore Cliff Omoruyi - 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 59.3% FG; 6’4” senior Geo Baker - 11.2 points, 3.7 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 31.3% 3-pt FG; 6’7” senior Caleb McConnell - 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 steals; 6’6” junior Paul Mulcahy - 5.6 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals; 6’6” sophomore Aundre Hyatt - 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists; 6’8” freshman Jaden Jones - 5.0 points, 1.7 rebounds; 6’7” sophomore Mawot Mag - 5.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 37.5% 3-pt FG; 6’8” senior Ralph Gonzales-Agee - 3.2 points, 1.6 rebounds
The Broncs are having a poor season and come to Piscataway with a four game losing streak that includes defeats to No. 92 Ole Miss (75-51), No. 99 South Carolina (65-58) and No. 105 Iona (80-54). Their best win of the season came against No. 311 Coppin State by the score of 81-69 in the first week of the season. They are averaging 64.8 points per game and allowing opponents to score 72.8 points per game.
Rider is a terrible shooting team with an effective field goal percentage of just 41.1%. That ranks 351st out of 358 Division I programs. However, they are shooting 75.9% from the foul line which is 59th best nationally. They’re allowing opponents to grab offensive rebounds at a rate of 31.9% which is just 284th nationally. The Broncs foul often as opponents have a free throws attempted to field goals attempted rate of 36.1% which is ranked 297th. Opponents are also shooting 34.1% from three-point range.
Keys To Victory
Rutgers will play its first game in six days and following a challenging four game stretch in which they went 2-2. The student-athletes are in the middle of finals with school and hopefully this game will serve as a positive break from it all.
This is a game that RU should win easily and to do so they need to do a few basic things well.
- Play fundamentally sound defense that limits penetration and forces Rider to take contested jump shots. Don’t be overaggressive and limit fouling, keeping their free throw attempts to a minimum.
- Control the boards by overwhelming the Broncs in crashing the offensive glass and profiting on second chance points.
- Take care of the basketball and limit transition opportunities for Rider. The Scarlet Knights have a low turnover rate this season (16.7%, 58th) but have struggled with turnovers the past two games against Purdue and Seton Hall.
- Play with urgency and avoid complacency. Take care of business, extend the lead to a comfortable margin where the starters avoid big minutes and the bench gets some much needed work.
Cliff Omoruyi should feast inside, no one will be able to stay with Ron Harper Jr., Caleb McConnell needs to continue to play smart and balanced, and Geo Baker needs to make sure the ball isn’t sticking in halfcourt sets. Paul Mulcahy needs to improve his confidence, Jaden Jones needs to look to attack, Aundre Hyatt needs to be more engaged, Ralph Gonzales-Agee needs to work on his post defense and Jalen Miller needs to gain playing experience. If Mawot Mag is healthy after leaving Sunday’s game against Seton Hall, improving his defense and looking to grab offensive rebounds will make him effective in this matchup.
For the eleventh game of the season, I’ve selected Michael Kiwanuka playing two songs into each other with “Rolling” and “I’ve Been Dazed”. He is a tremendous musician and these two songs are great examples of his work.
Last week was a rollercoaster, as Rutgers knocked off No. 1 Purdue followed by a disappointing performance to now No. 16 Seton Hall. They also dealt with a flu outbreak. So they were rolling after their first Big Ten win of the season followed by getting knocked down by their rival.
A positive response is needed and Rutgers needs to take care of business against Rider. A 5 pm tip time on the Saturday before Christmas will likely result in a half empty arena. They’ll need to generate their own energy and not rely on the home crowd. This team needs to show maturity and play above their competition in dominating an inferior opponent for the first time all season. This is the first of a three game stretch where this will be true and they MUST win them all to head into Big Ten play with an 8-5 record overall.
Make this an uneventful blowout victory, get players that need minutes that time and move onto the next.