Rutgers led 12-7 early before a 17-2 Michigan run gave the Wolverines a 24-14 lead with over seven minutes go to in the half, their biggest lead of the afternoon. Rutgers bounced back, pulling within one point of Michigan before a layup gave the Wolverines a 37-34 lead into halftime.
At one point during the second half, the Wolverines went scoreless for over four minutes, though Rutgers couldn’t take the lead, as Michigan held on for the 69-63 win.
Michigan was led by sophomore forward Brandon Johns, Jr., who led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds while shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from three.
“Brandon’s been playing great for us all year,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard told reporters following the win. “This is something that has happened all season long, game by game. A lot of things that he’s doing to help us win don’t really show up in the box score.”
Johns, who also had two steals and two assists, says the win is a feeling he could get used to.
“I’ll give everything to help the team win,” he said.
Jon Teske, a 7-foot-1 senior center, added added 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Senior point guard Zavier Simpson finished with nine points and 10 assists.
Rutgers received a great effort from sophomore guard Montez Mathis, who netted 17 points and recorded eight rebounds. Caleb McConnell, Yeboah Akwasi and Jacob Young added 10 points each.
“We didn’t play our best game today, but Michigan is really good,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell remarked following the loss. “The effort was great. We obviously have to shoot the ball better against a really good team like that.
“Our pick-and-roll defense wasn't elite, and it needed to be tonight,” added Pikiell. “We still had chances to win though. We're one of the youngest teams in the league and we are going to have games like that. I liked our grit and toughness.”