PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Freshman center Cliff Omouryi had 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting and added 11 rebounds to help Rutgers beat Sacred Heart 86-63 on Wednesday night in their season opener.
Ron Harper Jr. had 18 points and Montez Mathis added 17 for Rutgers, ranked in the AP preseason poll for the first time in 41 years.
Paul Mulcahy and Myles Johnson also were perfect from the field for the Scarlett Knights. Mulcahy had 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting and added seven assists, and Johnson was 5 of 5 for 10 points.
Aaron Clarke had 17 points for Sacred Heart.
While a soundtrack of crowd noise was pumped over the Rutgers Athletic Center speakers, the game felt more like a closed scrimmage than the start of a season with more hype around it than has been around the program in recent decades.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 150 people were allowed in the 8,000-seat venue that saw 10-consecutive sellouts last season as Rutgers rose in the Big Ten and Top 25 rankings.
Rutgers showed it was deserving of its Top 25 ranking, however, it won’t get a real test until the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, when it hosts Syracuse on Dec. 8.
With just over four minutes left in the first half, Geo Baker came down on Clarke’s foot and tweaked his left ankle. The senior captain and All-Big Ten honoree did not return and was back on the bench in the second half with crutches.