Connect with us


Cliff Omoruyi delivers game saving defensive stand



Wisconsin guard Connor Essegian (3) misses a basket over Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi (11) in the closing moments of the second half of their game Saturday, February 18, 2023MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

On the last defensive stand of Rutgers’ 58-57 win over Wisconsin on Saturday, the Badgers took two shots as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Standout freshman Connor Essegian, who was averaging 17.2 points in his previous five contest, drove into the paint still looking for his first field goal with the game on the line.

Enter Rutgers rim defender Cliff Omoruyi. This final possession of the game may end up being the perfect clip to highlight his career in scarlet. Having played all but two minutes the entire day, Omoruyi added another gear with the game on the line. While it was a total team effort in gutting out the crucial road victory,

Cliff defended the running drive well and Essegian missed the shot with six seconds remaining. However, Max Klesmit grabbed the offensive rebound. The Badgers had another chance but when Klesmit drove into the paint, Omoruyi was there. After Klesmit found Essegian open on the perimeter, Cliff made an extraordinary play on the ball. He was able to block the potential game winning shot.

Rutgers prevailed on the road by 1 point without Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Caleb McConnell. A big reason why was the defense of Omoruyi. While the  team defense was very good and rotated well throughout the game, including the final possession, it was Cliff who reached a another level.

He did four critical things to save the day all on the final play.

Cliff contested the driving layup, deflected the ball away from the rim, stopped dribble penetration into the paint and then lastly somehow blocked the final shot of the game. The ground he made up to block the shot was otherworldly. It was incredible. He wasn’t leaving the outcome to chance and took matters into his own hands.

Watch it here.


Omoruyi has improved on the defensive end this season. Cliff is No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 28 nationally in block rate. He is also No. 5 in the league in defensive rebounding rate as well as No. 62 nationally. Cliff has improved significantly in both areas this season.

The Rutgers big man is on pace to become the first player in 32 years to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocks. However, his ability to defend the rim, alter shots and get Rutgers out in transition off of defensive rebounds has been huge. His ability to become more involved and more assertive on both ends.

There are four regular season games to and then the postseason. Cliff Omoruyi is as important to Rutgers as any player. If any fans doubted that take, he made that fact crystal clear on the final possession of a critical win over the Badgers.

Thanks for reading the The Scarlet Faithful. For more Rutgers Athletics content from The Scarlet Faithful, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube ChannelYou can subscribe to The Scarlet Faithful podcast on AppleSpotify, Pocket Casts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. For advertising inquiries or to reach out directly, email at



  1. Henry Rutgers

    February 19, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    Watching the game on BTN it was not obvious the massively critical role Omoruyi played in the final seconds. He never gave up. Without the benefit of the replay, I would have not known he altered the trajectory of the final shot. Nice job capturing the moment for your readers.

  2. thevinman

    February 19, 2023 at 5:54 pm

    I have to be honest as I am one of those who has been nit-picking about Cliff’s offensive short-comings. However, one can’t deny that Cliff is a monster on defense and his performance in the Wisconsin game made that crystal clear.

  3. BataliBoli98

    February 19, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    It was an unreal sequence. Along with Henry RU, in real-time, I also wasn’t sure that Cliff got a piece of the final shot but figured he must have since it was so short. A couple of other things about that sequence: 1) Aaron’s point about deflecting the ball away from the rim was a great instinct play. Since Cliff couldn’t corral the rebound he at least got the ball away from the paint thinking that the worst case scenario was a WI inbounds with under 2 seconds left from the coffin corner. 2) Paul not simply watching the last shot. He clearly interfered with the attempt by the WI player to tip the ball towards the rim. I’ve watched the reply ten times now and I am not 100% sure a successful tip would have counted. Regardless, Cliff’s athleticism, length, and, more vitally his hustle, sealed the win.

  4. pj43

    February 20, 2023 at 4:12 am

    I’ll take the win, given the circumstances. I took notice of when Reiber & Omoruyi were on the court together. On the offensive end there was a nice high-low play where Reiber, from up top, found Cliff for a basket. May I order more of that? Don’t know why that’s not more of a point of emphasis. I can’t agree with Aaron that Michigan is game Rutgers should win. I hope he’s right, but I see this as a difficult match up with or without a healthy McConnell. I’ll take 2-2 in the remaining games. I’m actually more concerned about the 2 home games. By the way, I’d like to thank the refs for those iffy calls on Hepburn which reduced Chucky’s playing time and effectiveness, scoring only 6 pts. Can you believe that WI was called for more fouls than visiting Rutgers?!

  5. thevinman

    February 20, 2023 at 4:13 pm

    People are talking about playing Cliff and Reiber together. We can might be able to do that for short bursts but we need Reiber to give Cliff a breather as Woolfolk doesn’t seem ready.

  6. thevinman

    February 20, 2023 at 9:17 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *