Sun, 18 Apr 2021

Rutgers bids to rebound vs. skidding Minnesota

Field Level Media
06 Mar 2021, 04:40 GMT+10

Rutgers is still projected to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991, however another dismal performance could change things.

The Scarlet Knights hope to rebound from their worst loss of the season on Saturday afternoon when they visit Minnesota for their regular-season finale inMinneapolis.

Rutgers (13-10, 9-10 Big Ten) was 37th in the NET rankings as of Thursday, which places them somewhere between an eighth and 10th seed in various projections. The Scarlet Knights enter Saturday's encounter with four losses in six games since their 76-72 home win over the Golden Gophers on Feb. 4.

"This is what we signed up for," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said Thursday. "I know our guys are excited. We're playing meaningful games in February and March. We've come a long way with the program."

Two of those losses are to ranked foes Michigan and Iowa, but the Scarlet Knights trailed by as many as 30 points on Monday en route to absorbing a disappointing 72-51 loss at last-place Nebraska. The Scarlet Knights shot 38.6 percent from the floor, missed 20 of 23 3-point attempts and allowed the Cornhuskers to shoot 51.9 percent from the field.

Jacob Young scored 12 points and Ron Harper Jr. added 10 for Rutgers. Since shooting 53.1 percent against Minnesota, the Scarlet Knights are shooting 42.0 percent and 24.2 percent from 3-point range in the past six games.

"This is my first go-around trying to get into the (NCAA Tournament) too," Rutgers guard Geo Baker said. "What I do know is that we have one regular-season game left, and we got one Big Ten tournament game left, at least, and we have to handle business."

Minnesota (13-13, 6-13) is on a six-game losing streak but boasts the league's third-leading scorer in Marcus Carr. He is averaging 20.1 points and scored 18 points in the first meeting.

The Golden Gophers have lost by an average of 14.2 points per game during their losing skid. On Wednesday, Minnesota sustained its fourth double-digit loss of the skid when it shot 35.6 percent in an 84-65 loss at Penn State.

Carr reached the 1,000-point mark for his career after scoring 22 points on Wednesday, marking his 11th 20-point game this season. He is averaging 28.7 points in his past three games and Wednesday topped the 20-point mark despite going 4-of-13 from the field.

Carr is performing at a high level as Minnesota endures numerous injuries. Liam Robbins has missed three straight games with a sprained ankle, Gabe Kalscheur has missed four straight games with a broken finger while Brandon Johnson was limited to nine minutes Wednesday after reinjuring his ankle in practice.

"They're giving us what they got," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "I don't think any team could lose three starters and be as good."

--Field Level Media

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