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Michigan bounces back, tops Rutgers at home

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In another sluggish start for the Wolverines, they found a way to push through and hold the Scarlet Knights in check for a victory.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While the offense didn’t have its best day, Michigan was able to hold Rutgers in check on the defensive end for the entire game and get back on the winning track.

Holding the Scarlet Knights to just 33 percent from the field and 22 percent (2-of-9) from deep, U-M (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) topped RU (12-9, 2-6) 62-47 on Sunday afternoon in the Crisler Center.

The Wolverines moved into third place (holding the tiebreaker with Michigan State) in the Big Ten standings behind Ohio State and Purdue who are a perfect 8-0 in league play.

The win moved the Wolverines onto 11-1 at home this season and a win in the only meeting they have with the Scarlet Knights this season.

Summary

U-M opened the game by picking up where they left off in Lincoln, shooting 1-of-6 from the floor to open the game and trailing RU 4-2 at the first media timeout.

Forward Duncan Robinson and guard Charles Matthews would both hit corner 3-pointers to give the Wolverines some life on offense, but they still trailed 10-8 with 11:52 to play on the first half.

Robinson would hit again for a transition triple to give U-M its first lead of the afternoon at 13-10. RU didn’t score for over a six minute period and the Wolverines would only grow the lead.

Robinson would hit another triple, and Matthews would get a fast-break layup to cap off a 17-2 run that gave U-M a 22-12 advantage with 4:14 to play in the half.

RU would cut into the lead a bit heading into the break, with U-M leading 27-21. Neither side had a player in double figures scoring with Robinson leading everyone at nine points.

The Wolverines forced eight turnovers but had six themselves. RU was 0-for-3 from deep and the Wolverines were 4-for-12, which helped give them the lead in the locker room.

At one point in the half, RU went 15 possessions with six turnovers, 10 missed shots and just two points, yet they only trailed by six.

To open the second half, U-M got its German forward Moritz Wagner going with a couple buckets including a 3-pointer that put the Wolverines ahead 37-29 with 15:13 left.

The Wolverines would hold an eight-point lead at the under 12 timeout, continuing to hold the Scarlet Knights in check but failing to blow the game wide open.

Then, U-M began to put its head down and push the pace.

U-M guard Zavier Simpson would get back-to-back layups heading into a timeout at the 7:09 mark to give the Wolverines a 51-37 lead, their largest of the game.

The lead would be enough for U-M to coast to a victory with essentially the same lead for the remainder of regulation time.

Wagner led the Wolverines with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Robinson also had a solid game by pouring in four triples in eight tried for 12 points.

U-M forced the Scarlet Knights into 13 turnovers for 15 points and got 20 points off the bench, led by Robinson’s 12 tallies.

The next game for the Wolverines against Purdue in West Lafayette at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, in a rematch from a 70-69 Boilermaker win in Ann Arbor earlier this season.

Game notes

  • RU didn’t have a 3-point field goal until the 17:05 mark of the second half.
  • RU could only manage one total assist over the entire game. U-M had 16 of them.
  • 47 points is the lowest amount of points the Wolverines have held a Big Ten opponent to this season.
  • Freshman point guard Eli Brooks did not play in the game. His minutes were taken by transfer guard Jaaron Simmons, who played eight minutes off the bench and scored two points. Simpson played the other 32 minutes and finished with 10 points.