NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 02: Geo Baker #0 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights reacts in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers during quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 2, 2018 in New York City.
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are off to a strong start, but they’ll be without Geo Baker for the foreseeable future.

Rutgers men’s basketball is off to a rare strong start, but one of the biggest contributors to the cause will be missing as Big Ten play resumes. On Friday, the Scarlet Knights (10-3) announced that guard Geo Baker will be out indefinitely. The junior has suffered a left thumb injury that will sideline him as the Knights hit the heart of their conference slate.

“Our focus is upon Geo receiving the best care and treatment to make a healthy return this season,” said head coach Steve Pikiell in a team statement. “His absence will be another challenge for our program, and we have every confidence our team will rise to meet it.”

This blow came hours before the Scarlet Knights tipped off in Lincoln against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Baker was limited to a season-low 18 minutes in Rutgers’ 94-49 win over Division II opponent Caldwell on Monday.

The guard leads the Knights in minutes, playing 30.5 per game. He’s also the team leader in assists (4.0 per game) and steals (1.8). His most notable performance of the season came on Dec. 11 against Wisconsin. Baker tied his season-high 22 points to go along with four assists and three steals. Rutgers won the game 72-65 in Piscataway. It was the first win in an active four-game winning streak entering Friday’s action.

The Scarlet Knights are currently 1-1 against Big Ten foes to go along with their strong overall mark. Their winning streak includes a 68-48 win over ranked in-state rival Seton Hall on Dec. 14.

Rutgers, sans Baker, will continue their Big Ten trek in Piscataway on Tuesday after their visit to Nebraska. They’ll welcome in the Penn State Nittany Lions, currently ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll (7 p.m. ET, BTN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490

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