NEW YORK — Michigan head coach Juwan Howard knows all too well the bumps and bruises one can accumulate while a basketball player in the Big Ten Conference, and his current iteration of the Wolverines continues to amass welts and scars during a turbulent league season.
Wolverines forward Brandon Johns Jr. paid for that trademark physicality on Saturday afternoon, sporting a shiner under his right eye after the game — yet putting up the decisive numbers that made the black eye worth all of his troubles.
Looking like a prizefighter that went the distance, Johns delivered his own knockout blows — 20 points, seven rebounds, four three-pointers — as Michigan defeated No. 25 Rutgers 69-63 as part of the annual Big Ten Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Jon Teske added 10 points while point guard Zavier Simpson chipped in with nine points and 10 assists as the Wolverines have now won their second straight after four consecutive losses on the trot.
Rutgers kept themselves in the game in large part to hustling their way to 26 offensive rebounds, which in turn led the Scarlet Knights to take 36 more shots from the field (83-47) in the game. Luckily for Michigan, that disparity was offset by its efficient first-half shooting (12-of-23, 52 percent) and the nine triples it hit in 19 attempts in the game.
Johns knocked four of those threes down, three in the first half when his 15 points led Michigan to a slim 37-34 lead at halftime. Along the way, he got knocked in the face hard enough to result in the unsightly black eye.
Just another part of Big Ten Conference basketball.
Guard Montez Mathis led the Scarlet Knights with 17 points as they opened up a the second half by scoring two baskets in a row to take a slim 38-37 lead. Soon after, Michigan went on a 9-0 run, capped off by John’s fourth three at 14:15 remaining to open up a nine-point advantage.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 28 pictures in total.