Ron Harper Jr. has career night as Rutgers routs Fairleigh Dickinson

It was interesting. And then Rutgers woke up.

Maybe it was the short turnaround. Tryptophan could also be to blame. Perhaps it was the realization this could be the first game of many with Geo Baker in street clothes. Or, you know, it could be that playing in an empty arena in front of a sea of cardboard is just weird once the opening day adrenaline runs dry.

But whatever it was, the No. 24 Scarlet Knights came out flat on Friday at the RAC. Fairleigh Dickinson did not, and the Knights grabbed an early lead that likely would have had Rutgers fans booing if there were any present in the building. But, again, Rutgers then woke up, so this was a night no one will remember by Sunday instead of one that will be stewed over for months.

Ron Harper Jr. scored a career-high 30 points and Jacob Young added 24 points as Rutgers coasted to a 96-75 win over FDU in Piscataway after trailing for nearly 10 minutes in the first half.

The Knights (0-2) led by as many as seven points early, but the Scarlet Knights began to pull away when Young’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:20 left in the first half sparked a 14-0 run that turned the game. Harper drilled five 3-pointers and showed the offensive consistency Rutgers is looking for from him, especially with Baker sidelined indefinitely with a bad ankle sprain. And the Scarlet Knights are now 2-0 heading into Sunday’s scheduled tilt with Hofstra, another team that had a long-awaited NCAA Tournament appearance was wiped out by COVID-19 in March.

Montez Mathis scored 15 points for Rutgers. Point guard Paul Mulcahy, starting in place of Baker, had two points and a team-leading eight rebounds. Big man Myles Johnson had eight points and freshman Mawot Mag had six points and five boards. Heralded rookie Cliff Omoruyi had a quiet night after notching a double-double in his collegiate debut Wednesday against Sacred Heart; he only had five points and three rebounds.

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