Rutgers Men's Basketball - Cliff Omoruyi
Cliff Omoruyi (Photo courtesy Rutgers Athletics)

Cliff Omoruyi's Presence is Enough to Lead the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Past No. 11 Wisconsin

Saturday evening, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-10) upstaged the No.11 Wisconsin Badgers at home in front of a sold-out arena, 78-56. This matchup was highly anticipated because of seeding, and with the tournament rapidly approaching every game will count. One of the biggest standouts from this game was Rutgers's prolific rebounder and rim protector Cliff Omoruyi. He managed to record a double-double partnered with eight blocks (13 points, & 13 rebounds).

According to Omoruyi, continuous hours of film allowed him to recognize patterns from the Badgers’ guards of not passing once reaching the paint. He recognized this and understood if he came over for help at the right moment, he could have multiple blocks and have an impact on defense. Not to mention, during this game, Omoruyi secured his 200th block for his career as well.

“The two guards don’t pass the ball when they’re in the paint, so as soon as I adjusted in the paint and waited for them to go up it made getting those blocks easier,” Omoruyi stated

That said, from the opening tip-off, Rutgers came out in rhythm and the defense played with captivating energy. It appeared the Scarlet Knights came to play and had something to prove. Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights were absent with some of their talented backcourt all season, therefore transfer Jeremiah Williams in his Rutgers debut recorded 18 points and seven assists. In the past, Rutgers's defense has always played exceptionally well, however their offense was often put into question as it appeared there wasn’t a primary scorer. That said, multiple guards stepped up scoring in double digits, Noah Fernandes (17), Mawot Mag (12), and Aundre Hyatt (11). 

“Anytime when the balls going in it’s a good thing, but I like the shot attempts we got and have been getting and we made them today,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell explained. “Against a good team like that [Wiscosin] that doesn’t let you score, their defense is one of the most efficient in the country. So, it's a good sign for us.”

 What’s at Stake for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights?

Due to the struggles of this season, it may seem unlikely that Rutgers may compete in the March Madness tournament, however there’s a very high possibility they may compete within the NIT Tournament. To ensure their NIT birth, they must continue to build momentum and get hot at the right time. At the moment, they are beginning to get healthy and playing with an energy that they haven’t quite had all season. 

“Steve’s done a good job and they're healthy,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard emphasized. “They get Williams and all their guys back, their depth has improved. Look, they’re going to play extremely hard, and if you don’t counter that you’ll have yourself in trouble like we did today.”


That said, if these key players continue to build off their momentum and play efficiently by scoring at a rapid rate, their chances of competing grow far higher. The newly acquired players having fresh legs will help along with their depth and versatility down the stretch, ultimately making it difficult for opposing teams as well.

Who’s Next for the Scarlet Knights?

Thursday evening, the Scarlet Knights will face off with Northwestern Wildcats on February 15th.

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