The Michigan Wolverines (18-10, 8-7) narrowly avoided a disastrous loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-16, 2-14), beating them 68-64 in Piscataway, NJ on Wednesday night.
D.J. Wilson put up 10 points and 11 rebounds. Zak Irvin went off for 16 points while Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Derrick Walton Jr. had 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The maize and blue established control early in the contest, opening up a 22-13 lead with 10:04 remaining in the first half. The Scarlet Knights pulled within two with 6:24 left, but the Wolverines fought them off and took a 35-28 lead into the second half.
Michigan was able to maintain their lead for most of the second half. However, Rutgers was able to fight its way back and take a 56-52 lead with 6:46 left in the game. Just two possessions later, D.J. Wilson put down a three-point jumper to give the Wolverines a 57-56 lead.
The game stayed close from there on out. With 56 seconds left, the maize and blue opened up a 65-61 lead thanks to two successful free-throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. The Scarlet Knights kept it close enough to make it a three-point game with 14 seconds left, but they weren’t able to tie the game on their final possession, allowing the Wolverines to come out with the win. Michigan avoided a loss that would have thrown a monkey wrench into their chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
Even though Rutgers had a better free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage and shot better from three-point range, the Wolverines out-rebounded them 40-33. This is arguably surprising given that the Scarlet Knights average 41.1 rebounds per game, good for best in the Big Ten conference and fourth best in college basketball.
The win is also head coach John Beilein’s 500th win at the NCAA Division I level.
The Wolverines will hit the hardwood again this Saturday, February 25, when they host the No.14 Purdue Boilermakers in their final home game of the season at 4:00 p.m. EST on ESPN2.