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Rutgers wraps nonconference slate vs. Sam Sessoms, Coppin St.

Mar 11, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Sam Sessoms (12) passes the ball while Purdue Boilermakers forward Mason Gillis (0) defends  in the first half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before diving into the rest of the Big Ten schedule, Rutgers will encounter a somewhat familiar face in its final nonconference game.

The Scarlet Knights hope to earn their third straight decisive victory Friday night when they host Coppin State in Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers (8-4) will open the rest of its league schedule Monday when it visits top-ranked Purdue. First, the Knights head into Friday facing Coppin State (5-11), which is led by former Big Ten player Sam Sessoms.

Last season at Penn State, Sessoms scored 17 and 13 points in two games against Rutgers. Now he’s the nation’s fourth-leading scorer.

The Knights are coming off consecutive blowout wins over Wake Forest and Bucknell as a nice response to their close losses at Ohio State and Seton Hall.

After shooting 58.5 percent in beating Wake Forest, the Scarlet Knights dominated Bucknell 85-50 last Friday when they shot 49.3 percent and got big games from Clifford Omoruyi and Caleb McConnell. Omoruyi totaled 17 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high six blocks while McConnell added 14 and seven assists.

“Leading up to this game, we just wanted to focus on getting a win,” Rutgers forward Aundre Hyatt said. “These games are dangerous, right before break, everyone’s looking forward to it. We just wanted to execute the game plan and just play hard. I think that’s what we did today.”

Despite losing 11 of its first 16 games, Coppin State is getting 22.9 points on 53.1-percent shooting from Sessoms. In three appearances against Rutgers, Sessoms made 51.9 percent of his shots and averaged 13 points.

Sessoms is coming off his quietest showing of the season when he was held to a season-low 13 points Wednesday in a 83-65 loss at Richmond. After seven consecutive games with Sessoms scoring at least 20 points, opposing defenses are focusing on him and his 24 attempts in the past two games are his fewest two-game total of the season.

He also leads the Eagles with 5.4 assists per game.

Friday is the second meeting ever between the schools: In the other meeting, Rutgers held the Eagles to 29.1 percent from the floor in a 64-39 win on Nov. 19, 2017.

–Field Level Media