Northwestern shoots lights out, burying Rutgers in 98-59 blowout
Before things could even get going, fate had already decided the predictable outcome.
Entering its road matchup at Northwestern, the Rutgers men's basketball team knew it had to lock up its perimeter defense. It knew it needed to find a better source of offense. And the struggling Scarlet Knights certainly knew that if they didn't, the end result would be much of the same.
But as the Wildcats pounced on the Knights out of the gate, they jumped out to a lead as high as 32 in the first half. And as Northwestern torched it from behind the 3-point arc for a season-high 17 treys, Rutgers stood no chance.
The end result: a 98-59 feasting from the Wildcats over the Knights in front of 7,833 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois.
The national broadcast on ESPNU was the latest bad look from Eddie Jordan's squad. The third-year head coach saw his program's Big Ten losing streak dating back to Jan. 11 of last year grow to 31 games.
On the season, Rutgers (6-23, 0-16) has dropped its past 16 contests — all of which have come in conference play.
With freshman guard Corey Sanders missing the trip to the Midwest for his fourth and final game of his two-week suspension after a team rules violation, the Knights trotted eight scholarship players out on the court.
Greg Lewis, who sat last week's matchup at Minnesota to nurse a knee injury that has nagged the senior center for much of his fifth season on the Banks, returned to the starting lineup.
Rutgers even added one more big man with 6-foot-11 forward Ibrahima Diallo seeing his first live game action since Dec. 12 at George Washington. Jordan deemed the redshirt freshman out for the remainder season on Jan. 18, but said on Feb. 2 that he hoped to re-evaluate Diallo with 2-3 weeks left in the season.
But even with both of those additions to aid the Knights in the paint, none of it mattered. The Wildcats owned the glass, ending the contest with a plus-20 rebounding advantage, 45-25.
They used it to their advantage, notching 22 second-chance points with 34 points in the paint. Rutgers played into Northwestern's trap, turning the ball over 12 times.
But even that wasn't all.
The Wildcats (18-11, 6-10) shot 9-for-12 from deep in the first half, ending the afternoon with an incredible 17-for-28 clip. Tre Demps led the red-hot charge from Northwestern, securing a game-high 24 points that featured a 6-for-8 mark on 3s.
For the Knights, Jonathan Laurent posted a team-high 17 points and six rebounds. But the freshman forward struggled from the field, with his 11-for-14 clip from the free-throw line covering his 3-for-12 mark from the field.
Rutgers has two more games before it heads to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament. The Knights return to the Rutgers Athletic Center to host No. 6 Michigan State (23-5, 10-5) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before rounding out the regular season with Minnesota (8-19, 2-13) on Saturday at 1 p.m.