Princeton vs. Rutgers Men's Basketball
(Photo by Paul Mecca - JSN)

Rutgers Men's Basketball Drops 2023-24 Campaign Opener To Princeton

There is nothing like the season opener in college basketball. The suspense, the hype and all the waiting since the previous March has finally come to an end. What should be a happy and exciting time "On the Banks" is instead another "here we go again" aura. After failing to make the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round of the NIT, the Scarlet Knights were looking for a smooth start into the new year.

Disappointment is really the only word to describe Monday night's performance, as the Rutgers Men's Basketball team kicked the 2023-24 campaign not too far from home against in-state rivals, Princeton. In a practical gimme game, the Scarlet Knights managed to find a way to start the season off on the wrong foot.

After trailing by four at half, the Scarlet Knights were able to make up the deficit, but not take the lead. Following a hard fought back and forth battle, Rutgers eventually dropped the opener 68-61. The same common themes from last year; can't shoot, too many fouls and can't consistently rebound offensively, carried into Monday night's display as the Scarlet Knights just can't seem to bite bad habits.

The new starting five for Rutgers was pretty discouraging offensively as Cliff Omoruyi led the way with a team-high 12 points. Noah Fernandes (UMASS transfer) and Antwone Woolfolk were the only other Scarlet Knights to record double digit points in the matchup.

The Scarlet Knights were as cold as you can get from the three-point arc, as they went 28.6% from that distance. From within the three-point line, Rutgers found themselves in a better but not great position, finishing 40.3% of field goal attempts.

On the free throw line, the Scarlet Knights were excellent, going 7-7. A huge accuracy piece of their game that was missing last season, especially in big moments. If Rutgers is able to draw more fouls in the paint and capitalize on the line, the Scarlet Knights will be able to rack up more points and take advantage of more offensive possessions.

Defensively, the Scarlet Knights looked solid. As a team, Rutgers recorded six blocks (four from Cliff), seven steals (three from Oskar Palmquist) and 23 defensive rebounds. As fantastic as all of this is, both Fernandes and Austin Williams recorded four personal fouls while Cliff recorded three (team - 16). The Scarlet Knights need to be more careful moving forward, as the last thing they need right now is to have players fouling out and giving more opportunities to opposing teams.

Despite this only being the first game for Rutgers, it is 100% appropriate to be concerned. Yes, Princeton is a good team who pulled off two huge upset victories over top-10 ranked foes in the NCAA tournament last year, however, they are no Big Ten team.

The competition in-conference for Rutgers is no walk in the park. Games will not be easy and wins will be extremely hard to come by if the Scarlet Knights veteran players and transfers can't produce. Someone has to step up and fill in the holes that were left from players like Cam Spencer and Paul Mulcahy leaving.

There is still a lot of ball to be played, but adjustments for the Scarlet Knights must be made and they must be made soon.

Rutgers Men's Basketball Next Game

  • When: November 10th (Friday) at 7 PM
  • Where: Jersey Mikes Arena - Piscataway, NJ - Rutgers University
  • Vs: Boston University
  • Watch: Big Ten Plus
  • Stats: Click here