Piscataway, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Making their first-ever trip to Rutgers, the 20th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes clash with the Scarlet Knights in Big Ten Conference action on Sunday.
The Buckeyes closed out the month of January with three straight wins, but earlier this week the squad was taken down by Purdue on the road, 60-58, which means OSU is now 6-4 in conference play.
While Ohio State is among the top teams in the league, the Scarlet Knights find themselves near the bottom of the standings with only two wins in 11 opportunities. In addition to struggling against the rest of the Big Ten, Rutgers is one of only two teams in the league, the other being Northwestern, that has a losing record overall.
Rutgers is currently suffering a seven-game slide, last winning against Wisconsin in a major upset (67-62) at home on Jan. 11. More recently, the team was tossed aside by Illinois on the road five days ago, 66-54.
According to Rutgers sources, this is just the second all-time meeting between the two schools on the hardwood, with the Knights posting a 97-96 win in triple-overtime versus OSU to win the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 30, 1978.
D'Angelo Russell came away with 20 points for the Buckeyes in the latest outing, but his final shot of the game against Purdue was the most crucial and it missed the mark. In a game that featured five ties and 12 lead changes, the only other player to score in double figures for Ohio State was Amir Williams who tallied 10 points. Russell filled out his stat line with seven rebounds, five assists and a couple of steals in the losing effort.
Russell, who has scored at least 20 points a total of 10 times this season, has reached double figures in all but one of 23 outings for the Buckeyes. He is one of the leading scorers in the Big Ten during league action with 21.6 ppg, having knocked down 42.5 percent of his 3-point tries. But more than just a scoring threat, Russell is also first on the unit with 6.9 rpg and 50 assists in those 10 outings.
Playing in his 120th career game, Myles Mack scored 16 points for the Scarlet Knights during their recent stop at State Farm Center in Illinois, but it wasn't enough as Rutgers suffered the double-digit setback. Kadeem Jack accounted for 17 points and nine rebounds, but no one else on the roster made more than a pair of field goals as the group shot 42.0 percent from the floor and just 4-of-18 behind the 3-point line.
Mack, now one the top-10 scorers in the history of Rutgers basketball, is still shooting only 39.9 percent from the floor in conference play, but with 15.4 ppg he is the top option at that end of the floor for the program. Jack chips in with another 13.6 ppg and is one of the better rebounders with six per contest. However, unlike Mack who has been credited with 45 of the unit's 105 assists in 11 league outings, Jack has but eight dishes, against 33 turnovers.