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Rutgers handles Minnesota, steers clear of conference-altering loss

The Scarlet Knights took care of business on its home floor.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The schedule did Rutgers a favor on Wednesday night and the Scarlet Knights could not look past it.

Coming off a loss to Iowa, Rutgers returned home to face a last-place Minnesota team that has struggled. The Scarlet Knights ran away in the second half during its 90-55 win over the Golden Gophers at Jersey Mike’s Arena.

Rutgers hit its first four shots and six of the first eight to build a double-digit lead. Minnesota made a run in the middle of the second half but the Scarlet Knights ended on a 12-2 run to take a 10-point lead into the break.

In the second half, it was more of the same. Rutgers hit 10 of its first 13 shots in the second half to build a 20-point lead. The Scarlet Knights had four players finish in double-figures and 10 get on the score sheet.

Cam Spencer led the way with 17 points and went 3-for-3 from deep. Cliff Omoruyi scored the first seven points of the contest for Rutgers and finished with 13. Oskar Palmquist logged a career-high 13 points while Mawot Mag added 10. Even Aiden Terry got in on the action, knocking down his first career three-pointer.

Paul Mulcahy logged nine assists. In the process, he became the sixth Scarlet Knight to reach 400 career assists. As a team, Rutgers dished out 30 assists, the most ever in a Big Ten game. The 90 points scored marks the first time Rutgers scored 80 or more points in back-to-back Big Ten games.

With the win, Rutgers (15-7, 7-4) is tied for second place in the Big Ten with Illinois. This is where it will be when it takes on Michigan State on Saturday. This is a pivotal game for the Scarlet Knights as they look to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Spartans.

If Rutgers can pick up a win at Madison Square Garden, it would build a two-game lead on Michigan State.

The next three games for Rutgers will make up the most-important stretch of the season. It will be away from Jersey Mike’s Arena over the next three against Michigan State, Indiana, and Illinois. The game on Saturday at MSG will count as a home game for Rutgers.

This was the game Rutgers needed as it prepares for its biggest gauntlet of the season. If the Scarlet Knights can pick up a few wins, it can put them in a great position as the Big Ten Tournament looms.