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12/23 Big Ten Recap: Rutgers Falls

Recap all the Big Ten action from Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Gotham Classic-Rutgers at Mississippi State Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten only had one game on Saturday, but it was a marquee matchup between Rutgers and Mississippi State. The game was played in Newark and was a hard fought matchup.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-Mississippi State Bulldogs 70, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 60

Through the first eight games of the season, Rutgers had left fans wanting. While the team was 5-3, it had yet to beat an opponent of any worth. It was struggling to find its legs and prove it could contend for an NCAA bid. However, with a road win over Seton Hall, feelings about the team had come around and many were hopeful the pieces were going to start coming together. Saturday figured to be the next measuring stick.

Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights came up short in this one.

The game was relatively competitive, particularly in the first half when Rutgers led for portions. However, the team’s offense (yet again) faded as the second half approached and couldn’t keep pace. The Scarlet Knights finished with just 0.88 points per possession and only one player (Aundre Hyatt) finished with double-digits. Rutgers’ defense was solid, but not dominant enough to make up for the lackluster offensive performance.

The Scarlet Knights fell to 7-4 overall with the loss and will now be left searching for answers as the team prepares to re-start Big Ten play in early January. Whether fans want to hear it or not, Rutgers needs to improve its offensive production. The team is currently 199th in offensive efficiency, which is Rutgers’ worst mark since the 2017-’18 season, when Steve Pikiell was still trying to resurrect the program. In fact, it’s roughly 50 spots lower than even last year’s group, which fell short of the Tourney.

We’ll get a preview on that effort on December 30th when Rutgers closes out non-conference play at home against Stonehill. It should be an easy win for the Scarlet Knights. The team will then get Ohio State on the road on January 3rd. Rutgers will be hoping for revenge for last year’s controversial loss in Columbus.