Madison Square Garden-Saturday marked the 12th meeting dating back to 1933, with UM winning the prior 11, including a pair of postseason games.
Brandon Johns Jr. had his best game in a long time, gave Michigan (13-8, 4-6) a big lift with a 69-63 win over No. 25 Rutgers (16-6, 7-4) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday in front of 13,127.
The Wolverines used a lot of pick and roll action with Jon Teske early in the game which set up Johns on the perimeter. He scored a career-high 20 points, 15 in the first half.
“I felt really good tonight and I just wanted to contribute any way I could. They kept crashing on your bigs so that left some opportunities to hit some shots on the outside and I was able to knock those shots down.” Michigan guard Brandon Johns Jr. said.
Michigan shot a blazing 52.2% (12-23) from the floor and 54.5% (6-11) from downtown in the first half led by Johns’ effort.
Rutgers left Johns open on the perimeter and he made open 3s from all over the Garden, shooting 4 of 7. Johns was very active in the half, collecting seven rebounds, two assists, and a blocked.
Even with all the Wolverines’ runs, the Scarlet Knight wouldn’t go away quietly. Rutgers cut the lead to two with under half a minute left in the contest, the Wolverines closed out the game by hitting six consecutive free throws from the charity stripe.
If the Scarlet Knights made some shots down the stretch they would have stolen one at the Garden.
And while the Scarlet Knights didn’t make things easy, U-M’s offense helped the Wolverines pull away in the second half.
RU took a one-point lead early in the second half, the Wolverines responded with a 14-4 run to take a nine-point lead 51-42. Michigan got Teske involved in the pick and roll game and stretched the lead to double digits.
With under eight minutes left in the contest, Rutgers made a run to cut Michigan’s lead to six points (60-54), then Eli Brooks hit a trey in front of his own bench. But the Scarlet made another late run and trailed by three points with just 24 seconds left to play (63-60) — but the Wolverines would weather the storm with held Zavier Simpson and Franz Wagner hitting free-throws to iced it.
Rutgers couldn’t buy a basket in the second half and Michigan prevented Scarlet Knights’ easy looks in the paint. Rutgers had 26 offensive rebounds and attempted almost 40 more shots than Michigan but just couldn’t score in the final minutes of the game.
“They are really long and a very athletic team. We just stayed the course and played the Michigan brand of basketball. We were very lucky because we didn’t rebound well today but we made tough shots when we had to.” Michigan guard Zavier Simpson said.
Rutgers will travel to Maryland to play the No.15 Terrapins and it will be 7 pm start on FS1.