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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Rutgers preview

The Terps return home to take on the Scarlet Knights.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Maryland men’s basketball returns to College Park on Tuesday to take on Rutgers.

After falling to Michigan State, 61-59, two weeks ago, the Terps had an opportunity to even the season series on Saturday, but fell flat yet again in a 63-54 loss.

Both teams struggled to produce points throughout the first 30 minutes of the contest, but Michigan State’s Malik Hall stepped up when needed. With the Spartans holding a one-point advantage, Hall scored 10 of the their next 12 points to push the lead to 11. Michigan State cruised to victory from that point on, despite Jahmir Young’s game-high 31 points.

Tuesday’s game will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET and air on Big Ten Network.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-10, 3-7 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 19-15, 10-10 Big Ten

Head coach Steve Pikiell is in his eighth season at the helm of the Rutgers men’s basketball program. In 2021, he led the Scarlet Knights to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991, and he did so again in 2022, marking the first time Rutgers made the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons since 1976.

This season, the Scarlet Knights got off to a 5-1 start, but have struggled of late, losing three straight games before defeating Michigan, 69-59.

Players to know

Aundre Hyatt, senior forward, 6-foot-6, No. 5 — Hyatt is Rutgers’ leading scorer, averaging 11.6 points per game. He’s also second on the team with 105 rebounds and 19 steals. Hyatt started just 17 of 34 games last season, in which he averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Clifford Omoruyi, senior center, 6-foot-11, No. 11 — While Omoruyi averages less points per game (11.0) than Hyatt, he is far more efficient, shooting 51.4% from the field. He is a dominant force in the paint, averaging 9.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, both of which lead the Big Ten. Omoruyi is the only Scarlet Knight to start all 21 games.

Jeremiah Williams, redshirt junior guard, 6-foot-4, No. 25 — After tearing his Achilles tendon in October of last year, Williams was forced to miss the entire 2022-23 season and the first 20 games of this season. However, he made his Rutgers debut against Michigan on Saturday, dropping 10 points, six rebounds and two assists in the win.

Strength

Depth. Rutgers has seven players who average more than 20 minutes per game, and nine who average more than 17 minutes per game. In comparison, Maryland has just seven players who average more than 10 minutes per game.

Weakness

Offense. Rutgers’ offense has struggled mightily this season, ranking last in the Big Ten with 66.9 points per game. It ranks last in field-goal percentage (38.8), 3-point percentage (28.0) and free-throw percentage (65.2). According to KenPom.com, Rutgers ranks 300th (out of 362) in Division I in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Three things to watch

1. Reese will have his hands full. Julian Reese — when he avoids foul trouble — has been dominant in the paint as of late, posting a double-double in two of the last four games. However, Omoruyi is one of the best defenders and rebounders in the Big Ten, which will force Reese to play physically without fouling.

2. Defensive battle. Maryland and Rutgers are two of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten, while also being perhaps the two worst offensive teams in the conference. They each allow and score less than 70 points per game.

3. Will Young receive support? With Reese limited to 14 minutes against Michigan State, Young was on an island, forced to score more than half the team’s points. Outside of Young, Maryland shot 24.2% from the field. While the Scarlet Knights have struggled against Big Ten competition, Young cannot defeat them by himself.