ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Franz Wagner scored 20 points and Mike Smith added 12 to lift No. 3 Michigan to a 71-64 victory over Rutgers on Thursday night.
Hunter Dickinson added 10 points for the Wolverines, who won their second straight game since returning from a lengthy layoff after the athletic department paused activities for coronavirus-related reasons. Michigan avoided a slip-up before its showdown at No. 4 Ohio State this weekend.
Jacob Young scored 16 points for Rutgers, which led early but lacked the offensive sharpness necessary to keep up with Michigan. The Scarlet Knights (12-8, 8-8 Big Ten) have never beaten the Wolverines. Michigan (15-1, 10-1) has won all 14 meetings.
Rutgers led 9-4 early but couldn’t score consistently enough to put the Wolverines in any significant danger. Brandon Johns Jr. made a 3-pointer that put Michigan up 22-17 and capped a 16-6 run.
Michigan led 37-28 at halftime, then scored eight of the first 10 points after the break to lead by 15.
Wagner set up a couple dunks by Dickinson in the second half with clever passes inside.
Rutgers: For the first few minutes, the Scarlet Knights looked like they could give Michigan problems with their scrappy defense, but it was always the other end of the court that was going to be a potential problem for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights had only three turnovers in the game, but they shot 40% from the field and made only three 3-pointers.
Michigan: The Big Ten-leading Wolverines continue to roll. Michigan was in control for essentially the whole second half, although the Wolverines weren’t at their best near the end and let Rutgers cut the lead into single digits.
Michigan trails only Gonzaga and Baylor — two unbeaten teams. Rutgers missed the Top 25 by only two spots this week, but the Scarlet Knights couldn’t come up with the upset Thursday.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights host Maryland on Sunday.
Michigan: The Wolverines play at Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes were challenged a bit Thursday night but beat Penn State 92-82.