Second-year coach Steve Pikiell hopes his Rutgers team keeps playing like it did Tuesday when the Scarlet Knights host winless Coppin State on Sunday — and not like the game before. After squeaking by Central Connecticut State 71-67, Rutgers used a all-around team effort to knock off Cleveland State 70-38 for a 3-0 start.
“That’s more like how I want to play,” Pikiell said Tuesday. “These guys came out ready to go, and that’s the defense I like. Everybody contributed.” Rutgers is forcing 17.3 turnovers and holding opponents to 47.7 points early in the season. Senior captain Mike Williams leads the balanced scoring with 15.5 points off the bench. The Eagles have one of the nation’s lowest scoring averages at 53.5 points.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT COPPIN STATE (0-4): Dejuan Clayton is the only Eagle averaging double figures at 12.5 points while Adam Traore adds 9.8 points and 6.0 rebounds. The Eagles are having trouble hitting shots, shooting 29.5 percent from the floor and 23.3 percent from the 3-point line. The Eagles, who are in the middle of eight road games to start the season, are being outrebounded by an average of 15.5 per game.
ABOUT RUTGERS (3-0): Issa Thiam adds 12.7 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, who are plus-19.7 on the boards. Freshman point guard Geo Baker averages 10 points with 15 total assists and eight turnovers, including a 7-to-0 ratio against Cleveland State. Deshawn Freeman (12.3 points, 7.0 rebounds) has six steals and three of the team’s 10 blocks.
1. Rutgers went 5-of-11 from the free-throw line in its last game and is shooting 60 percent this season.
2. Rutgers is 12-0 in non-conference home games under Pikiell.
3. Rutgers and Coppin State have a common opponent as the Scarlet Knights beat Cleveland State 70-38 a few days before the Eagles lost to the Vikings 80-56.
PREDICTION: Rutgers 72, Coppin State 50