Things didn’t go exactly as planned for the Michigan basketball team Wednesday night, but the Wolverines picked a good night to struggle.
Hosting Rutgers, one of the worst Big Ten teams in recent memory, Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 16-5 overall) took care of business in the second half, closing out a 68-57 win. Despite an inspired start and even leading more than 15 minutes into the game, the Scarlet Knights (0-8, 6-15) lost their 23rd-consecutive Big Ten game.
MVP: Zak Irvin. The junior forward was not the leading scorer, but lately that’s what has made Irvin so successful. Irvin finished the game with just eight points, but chipped in a career-high 12 rebounds and eight assists. Given the Wolverines’ difficulty to score across the board in the game, Irvin’s help away from his shooting was as crucial as ever as he notched almost half of Michigan’s assists on the evening.
It was over when… With just over five minutes to go, Michigan had yet to take the lead. But with a confused and quieted crowd behind them, the Wolverines took off on a 10-0 run. Shots began to fall on open looks for Michigan, while the Scarlet Knights coughed up four turnovers and committed five fouls in the scoreless stretch. Rutgers played roughly even with Michigan in the second half, but never again looked capable or ready to make a comeback
Key Stat: Scoring did not come as easily for the Wolverines on Wednesday, but they did assist on 85 percent of made field goals. The clip is a season high for Michigan, and well above its 58-percent average.
Unsung Hero: Aubrey Dawkins. He missed what was very nearly a highlight-reel dunk, but the sophomore guard still provided plenty of energy. Continuing to assimilate to the bench role, Dawkins scored eight consecutive points in 96 seconds to help give Michigan the lead and some offensive momentum late in the first half. He didn’t stop there either, continuing to mix threes and good cuts to the basket and ending the game with 11 points.