PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers used defense, rebounding and balanced scoring to move into a tie for second place in the Big 10 Conference on Sunday, Jan. 19, with a 64-56 win over visiting Minnesota.
The Scarlet Knights (14-4, 5-2) held the Golden Gophers (10-8, 4-4) to 35.8% shooting from the field, including 9 of 28 from the 3-point line, and won the rebounding battle 45-35. That included 20 offensive caroms that were converted into 18 points.
Montez Mathis, Ron Harper and reserve Jacob Young paced Rutgers with 11 points each, while Caleb McConnell scored 10. McConnell also grabbed 12 rebounds as the Scarlet Knights improved to 13-0 at home. They could land in the Top 25 on Monday for the first time since the end of the 1978-79 season.
Daniel Oturu scored a game-high 19 points for Minnesotam but made only 6 of 16 shots from the field. Payton Willis netted 12, going 4 of 8 on 3-pointers.
Rutgers quickly pushed a nine-point halftime lead to 14 in the second half and kept the Gophers at bay for the game's remainder. The Knights hit only 39.3 percent from the floor but were 6 of 13 on 3-pointers.
Minnesota made the first hit, racing out to a 10-2 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the game behind seven points by Gabe Kalscheur and forcing Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell to use a 30-second timeout.
Playing in front of a third straight sellout crowd at home for the first time in 15 years, the Scarlet Knights wasted little time responding. They went on a 17-2 run that lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes, grabbing a 19-12 advantage when Paul Mulcahy grabbed the third offensive rebound of a possession and tossed in a short jumper in the lane.
Shaq Carter's turnaround jumper with 3:47 left in the half boosted the Rutgers lead to 10 at 30-20, and McConnell turned the Scarlet Knights' 15th offensive board of the half into a putback with four seconds remaining. That sent them to the locker room with a 34-25 margin.