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Next target for take-charge Rutgers: Maryland

Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Aundre Hyatt (5) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Caleb McConnell (22) celebrate during the NCAA men   s basketball game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Rutgers Scarlet Knights won 65-64.

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Giant-killer Rutgers is drawing attention again.

Just over a year after the Scarlet Knights toppled No. 1 Purdue, they pulled off another stunning upset of the No. 1 Boilermakers on Monday, handing the Big Ten Conference foe their first loss for the second straight year.

With a sellout crowd set to greet the conquering heroes Thursday in Piscataway, N.J., Rutgers (10-4, 2-1 Big Ten) tries to continue its roll against visiting Maryland (10-4, 1-2).

The Scarlet Knights enter on a high following their 65-64 win at Purdue. Paul Mulcahy scored 16 points with eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and zero turnovers. He scored nine of his points in the final six minutes.

The Scarlet Knights’ Cam Spencer added 14 points and knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

It was the fourth straight win for Rutgers, which has been led this season by 6-foot-11 Cliff Omoruyi, who averages 14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, all team highs.

Omoruyi could present problems for Maryland, which has a small front court and has gotten inconsistent play from 6-9 forward Julian Reese, who has been slowed by a shoulder injury and foul problems.

The Terrapins’ lack of presence inside was evident in a humiliating 81-46 loss Sunday at Michigan as they surrendered 32 points and 12 rebounds to Hunter Dickinson.

The Terps missed their first 10 shots on their way to their most lopsided defeat since entering the Big Ten in the 2014-15 season. Maryland was outrebounded 49-30 and gave up 50 percent shooting to Michigan while making only 26.5 percent of its own attempts.

“This was a total failure by me to try to get a team somewhat ready,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “I totally let down this program and these kids so this is on me. This is a total, total failure.”

The Terps will look for more from Jahmir Young (14.0 points per game) and Hakim Hart (12.6). The duo combined for 13 points against the Wolverines, with no Maryland player reaching double figures in points.

Maryland has a 13-6 edge over Rutgers in the series, with each winning on the other’s home floor last year.

“We’re three games into the best league in the country,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We’re good, but it’s a long, long season.”

–Field Level Media