Omoruyi, Baker lead Rutgers past Drexel 95-67
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell touted Eugene Omoruyi as the most improved player this offseason. So far, the pupil has proved his teacher right.
Omoruyi had his second-straight double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Geo Baker scored 20 points to lead Rutgers past Drexel 95-66 on Sunday.
“These two guys were veterans tonight and we needed that veteran leadership,” Pikiell said.
After an offensive outpouring to open the season that saw six players score in double figures, Rutgers struggled to get in a rhythm offensively against the Dragons, turning the ball over nine times in the first half before taking a 44-37 lead into the break thanks in large part to Baker. The sophomore was 7-of-10 with 15 points at the half.
Despite several double-digit leads, Drexel was able to hang around before Rutgers began to run away with the game eight minutes into the second half. By midway through the second half, Rutgers led 78-52 thanks to a 23-4 run. With just under five minutes to play the run was at 33-5 with the score 88-53 after an Omoruyi 3-pointer.
It was one of four 3-pointers by Omoruyi in the newly added facet of his game. While he said he knocked down some 3-pointers in high school, the junior had been 0-of-16 from 3-point range prior to the game.
“It’s crazy. I didn’t even know that stat, but I have full confidence in him” Baker said. “We work out in the gym, every night he’s been in the gym, so every time I’m not thinking ‘don’t shot it don’t shoot it.’ I know it’s going in.”
Kurk Lee scored 16 points for Drexel (0-2).
“I thought they had a really good start to the game and we didn’t have a great start, but found a way to battle back and be involved there,” Drexel head coach Zach Spiker said. “Halftime down seven with the way we played, I thought that was an acceptable number. We hadn’t played our best, go out and play better. But Rutgers had another gear too. We didn’t play better, they did and that created a pretty significant margin.”
90 OR ABOVE
Rutgers scored 90 points against D-I opponents in consecutive games for the first time since 1990-91. Coincidently, that’s also the last time Rutgers made the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers made 14 3-pointers, which is the most since the school record 15 at Syracuse on Feb. 1, 2006. This comes on the heels of 12 3s in the season-opener.
Drexel: Picked to finish ninth in the CAA Preseason Coaches/Media Poll, the Dragons look to take a step forward under third-year coach Zach Spiker. If they do so, it will be with the help of Lee, who was picked honorable mention preseason all-conference.
Rutgers: The new-look Scarlet Knights (six new scholarship-eligible players) are still working out the kinks as they faced two inferior opponents. The first true test will come when they host talent-laden St. John’s.
Drexel: Host Division III Bryn Athyn Wednesday night.
Rutgers: Host St. John’s Friday night in The Gavitt Tipoff Games.