COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Ron Harper Jr. scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, and No. 19 Rutgers won its Big Ten opener for the first time in school history, grinding past Maryland 74-60 Monday night.
The Scarlet Knights (5-0, 1-0) broke open a tight game with a 10-0 run that made it 50-38 with 11:49 left. Myles Johnson started and ended the spree with dunks, and Harper contributed a 3-pointer.READ MORE: 'This Is 10K People Who Have Died' Maryland Woman Shares Story After Mom Dies From COVID-19, Urges People To Get Vaccinated
After Donta Scott stemmed the surge with a long-range jumper, Harper connected from behind the arc and Jacob Young scored in the lane to give the Scarlet Knights a 14-point cushion.
This is the first time since 1934-35 that Rutgers has opened with five straight double-digit victories.
Scott scored 20 and Eric Ayala added 12 for Maryland (4-2, 0-1), which finished in a tie atop the conference last season.
Rutgers was winless in Big Ten openers since joining the league in 2014 and was 16-73 in conference play before going 11-9 last season.
The Scarlet Knights have 11 letter winners back from that 2019-20 squad, most notably Harper, a 6-foot-6 junior guard who came in averaging 22.3 points per game.
In this one, he went 10 for 17 from the floor, connected on 5 of 8 shots from beyond the arc and chipped in with five rebounds and four assists.
After Maryland closed to 60-51, Harper drilled a 3-pointer to restore the double-digit lead.READ MORE: ‘This Loss Is Ours As A City’ Baltimore Hockey Team Mourns Two Young Members, Murdered In East Baltimore Shooting
In the first half, the Scarlet Knights scored 10 straight points to take a 23-13 lead before Maryland closed with a 15-4 run to go up 28-27 at the break.
The Terrapins went 9 for 26 from the floor, misfired on all seven 3-point attempts and had five turnovers before halftime.
Rutgers: That was a solid start in conference play for the Scarlet Knights, who are no longer patsies against the traditional Big Ten powers. Harper can score from anywhere on the floor, and coach Steve Pikiell has Rutgers playing aggressively and effectively on the defensive end — Maryland shot 34.4%.
Maryland: The Terrapins have dropped two straight, and their youth is showing. The loss of stars Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan Jr. has left coach Mark Turgeon looking for answers and a consistent scorer.
Rutgers hosts Illinois on Sunday afternoon.MORE NEWS: Local Small Business Owners Share How American Rescue Plan Funding Helped To Keep Them Afloat
Maryland gets a week off before facing La Salle at home on Dec. 22.