John Beilein went 11 deep into his roster as the Michigan Wolverines topped the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 54-50 on the road.
When Zak Irvin went to the pine early with two fouls, Michigan was forced to put its youngest rotation of the year on the court just five minutes into the game. The loss of Ricky Doyle’s usual action due to illness didn’t help the case of the Wolverines either, but they still found a way to put together a strong enough performance to outplay the opposition.
Sean Lonergan saw his first extended action of the year, and Andrew Dakich dropped his redshirt when he entered the game to run the point for a short period of time.
Rutgers’ Kadeem Jack was tough to guard all night, but the Wolverines were able to slow him down just enough to keep pace, and head into the break up 24-22.
Michigan went on a quick run to start the second half until they went dry from the floor for almost five minutes. This has been a reoccurring theme for the squad all season, and it would be great to see a game without a multiple-minute drought for once (Saturday, preferably).
As Michigan continued to misfire, Rutgers battled back to cut the deficit to one at the under-12 media timeout. Following the timeout break, the Scarlet Nights found themselves amidst a nice 15-2 run before an Aubrey Dawkins three pulled Michigan back within three with 7:19 remaining.
Dawkins can leap out of the gym, and hopefully his athletic ability will allow his offensive production to really develop in the next couple of games. Michigan is in dire need of a big impact from him. He is a guy that looks so close to taking off, and if he does, he will really help make up for what Michigan lost when Caris LeVert re-injured his foot. Dawkins scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds tonight.
Max Bielfeldt played well tonight as well as he took over Doyle’s usual minutes. With three minuets to play he collected a big offensive rebound and followed that with a crucial three that put Michigan up six.
Michigan never looked back.
Rutgers turned the ball over with a minute to play, forcing the Scarlet Nights to play the foul game. Walton hit four key free throws and Zak Irvin hit a pair to secure a Michigan victory.
Michigan Team Leaders…
Points: Derrick Walton Jr. — 12
Assists: Spike Albrecht — 3
Rebounds: Max Bielfeldt — 8
Rutgers Team Leaders…
Points: Myles Mack — 15
Assists: Bishop Daniels — 2
Rebounds: Myles Mack — 6
On January 24th, ESPN’s College Gameday will be live from the Crisler Center as Michigan is set to host the #6 Wisconsin Badgers at 7 PM EST.
Derek Devine is a contributor for TBHR and can be followed on Twitter here, @TheDerekDevine.