October 18, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers loses ninth straight in 96-62 blowout to No. 12 Michigan State

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Sophomore guard Mike Williams led the Knights with 18 points, but his efforts weren’t enough to prevent another blowout loss in conference play.

The first minutes of the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s meeting with No. 12 Michigan State was filled with inconsistent shooting from both teams.

The Scarlet Knights missed five of their first six shots.

After hitting three of their first four attempts from the floor, the Spartans missed four straight shots heading into the first stoppage in play at the under-16 timeout.

The talk from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo during the game's first break lit a fire under his team and it never looked back.

The Spartans shot the Knights out of the gym, hitting six straight threes out of the timeout to pull away en route to a 96-62 blowout.

Bryn Forbes led the run for the home side, hitting five straight threes during the onslaught. The last of the bunch proved how hot he and his team were from deep, as he nailed a shot a hand in his face.

Facing a ranked team for the third time in its last four contests, Rutgers (6-16, 0-9) couldn’t keep up with its hosts’ unconscious shooting from downtown. Michigan State was on fire from the initial timeout forward, tying the school record with 17 threes as the Knights suffer their 24th straight Big Ten loss, ninth straight overall.

Although they were defeated by at least 20 points for the sixth time in nine conference games, it was not due to a lack of resilience.

Rutgers had a response to the Spartan’s 15-6 run out of the under-16 timeout in the first half, going on a 12-3 run of its own following the under-12 timeout to come within seven points.

That was the closest it came to recovering the lead.

Both teams traded baskets until the halftime horn blew and the Knights went into the locker room down 11 points.

Just like the first period, the second half began in equilibrium, with Michigan State leading by 16 at the under-16.

But after the initial timeout of the second period, the Spartans caught fire from the floor once again while the Knights went ice cold. Michigan State went on a 24-5 run to pull away from Rutgers for good as the visitors went nearly four minutes without scoring, missing 10 straight shot attempts.

Once the Spartans tied the program record with their 17th three, Izzo cleared his bench and rested his starters, sparing the Knights of yet another historic result.

Sophomore Mike Williams led Rutgers with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting. The guard hit his team’s first attempt from the floor, a trey to give the Knights their first — and only — lead at 3-2.

Williams’s three followed National Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine’s initial basket on the other end of the floor, a fade-away jumper while being guarded by guard Corey Sanders.

The 6-foot-2 freshman, who finished right behind Williams with 17 points, was tasked with guarding the long, 6-foot-5 forward throughout most of the first half.

Valentine was held to eight points in the opening period, but Forbes’s 18 points resulting from his hot hand and 75 percent shooting from beyond the arc made up for it.

A key factor for Rutgers keeping its last two games against then-No. 3 Iowa and Michigan competitive, Jonathan Laurent was a non-factor in East Lansing Sunday. The freshman forward was held scoreless in 16 minutes of action, fouling out with 2:47 remaining in the contest.

Still seeking their first ever Big Ten road win, the Knights hope to end the current 24-game skid in conference play in their next contest. Rutgers hosts Illinois, who is 2-6 in Big Ten play, Wednesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

If the Knights shoot as efficiently as Forbes and the Spartans did at the Breslin Center Sunday, they’ll be in good shape.

For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Brian Fonseca

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