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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell is a team-first guy, but he couldn't help but put the spotlight on star guard Corey Sanders for his career milestone on Tuesday night.
The second-year coach had his first player go over 1,000 points at Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights beat Fordham 75-63.
"I'm happy for the win. I really am. I don't really usually talk about individual accolades, but, 1,000 points. I'm really excited," Pikiell said. "That's a huge accomplishment . credit to Corey, 1,000 points is a special thing in this league."
Deshawn Freeman had 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and had 10 rebounds to lead Rutgers (9-3), which has won three straight. Sanders finished with 12 points and Geo Baker chipped in another 12. Candido Sa didn't miss a shot and scored all 10 of his points in the first half for the Scarlet Knights.
"Candido gave us a great lift," Pikiell said. "He plugged away and he's a good defender too. This was a game that was a little more suited for him because he could chase around some of those smaller players."
Ivan Raut scored 19 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, to lead Fordham (4-6). Will Tavares had 11 points, and David Pekarek and Perris Hicks each chipped in 10.
After a scoreless first couple of minutes, Fordham scored on Raut's 3-pointer, and could hear the visiting bench cheer in a half-empty RAC. The Rams were able to stay competitive in an ugly first half. It was 7-7 when Rutgers went on a 6-0 run.
A 4-point play by Raut cut the Rutgers' lead to 28-26 with four minutes left in the first half. Sanders' jumper for his 1,00th point and Sa's block ended the half and the Scarlet Knights led 36-28.
"I really wasn't thinking about it. I was just going to let it come to me," Sanders said. "I wasn't going to force anything. I'm just going to mess with the offense if I do that, so I was just playing ball, letting it come and after it happened, just tried to keep the same aggression as always."
Baker's dunk made it a 20-point lead for Rutgers with seven minutes to play. The Rams pulled to 65-56 with 3:44 remaining but didn't get closer.
Fordham: The Rams have yet to put together a winning streak and has struggled during their nonconference schedule.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have rebounded since snapping its three-game skid, including losses at then-ranked Minnesota and at home against No. 2 Michigan State and No. 19 Florida State. They face another ranked team in Seton Hall on Saturday.
Fordham has seven scholarship players, and played only six of them. Cavit Havsa did not play and Prokop Slanina was ill. Walk-on Thomas Sanchez played four minutes and didn't take a shot.
1,000 POINT TURNING POINT
Sanders became the 42nd player in Rutgers history to score 1,000 points. Senior Mike Williams is right behind him with 989 career points in scoring 10 against Fordham. It also seemed to be the turning point for Rutgers as it got the crowd to its feet giving a lifeless arena some energy.
Fordham: Hosts Florida A&M on Dec. 21.
Rutgers: Hosts No. 15 Seton Hall on Saturday in New Jersey's biggest intrastate rivalry.
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