After a tough loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday night, the Michigan Wolverines were in desperate need of a strong performance offensively to right the ship. They got that and more in their 77-65 victory at the RAC tonight against Rutgers.
Today’s victory, on John Beilein’s 66th birthday, makes him Michigan’s all-time leader in Big Ten wins with 121 total conference victories.
Brazdeikis started things off hot scoring the first eight points for the Wolverines. They also converted on each of their first five attempts, giving them a 15-6 lead early on.
Charles Matthews went on a bit of a run of his own, hitting a contested 3-pointer and fade-away, giving him nine points early in the contest.
At the under-4 timeout, the Maize and Blue led 38-21, but Rutgers went on an 8-0 run in less than a minute cutting the lead to just nine points.
At the halftime break, the Wolverines led 43-31. Brazdeikis would lead all scorers with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Michigan shot 61.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from behind the arc in the first half.
Both teams started off slow in the second half as each team only scored one bucket in the first two and a half minutes.
At the under-16 timeout, the Scarlet Knights fought back to be within 10 points. The Wolverines missed five straight 3-pointers until Jordan Poole and Brazdeikis hit back-to-back threes and catapulted the lead back up to 13.
The teams battled back and forth as the Wolverines maintained about a 13-point lead for the remainder of the ballgame.
With 5:30 remaining, Iggy hit his fifth triple to hit 23 points. But Rutgers’ Eugene Omoruyi responded with a 3-pointer of his own keeping the Scarlet Knights in contention.
With under four minutes to go, the Wolverines kept a 10-point lead after a Jordan Poole shot from the elbow fell, the lead was 68-58.
Rutgers was on the brink of a comeback on a possession that could have cut the lead to six points or less, but Brazdeikis continued his big game by drawing a charge to take away any chance Rutgers had left of a comeback.
The remainder of the game became a free throw competition as Rutgers fouled Zavier Simpson on back-to-back possessions. Simpson went 3-of-4 in crunch time from the line, icing the 77-65 win for Michigan.
Brazdeikis led all scorers with 23 points and five rebounds. Iggy was everywhere, converting on 5-of-9 shots from behind the arc and playing strong defense against a tough Rutgers team.
Simpson also had himself a night, getting dangerously close to yet another triple double. The Michigan point guard scored 14 points, brought down seven boards and dealt seven dimes.
Poole had 15 points of his own behind 50 percent shooting from deep.
These three Michigan scorers combined for 52 of the Wolverines’ 77 points. They also contributed nine of the Wolverines 11 3-pointers in the ballgame.
The Wolverines will have to continue to replicate the offensive production from tonight to continue to seize victory, as they have some tough opponents to round out the regular season.
Up next is the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers, one of two teams to beat the Wolverines this season. The game tips off from the Crisler Center at noon.