The only change to Michigan’s (12-7, 5-2) starting lineup since Saturday’s win over Northwestern was the insertion of freshman Aubrey Dawkins at the four spot, an opportunity he took full advantage of scoring 11-points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field over 31 minutes of work.
It looked like Dawkins would lead the team in scoring until Walton Jr. stepped up down the stretch with a pair of threes and some critical free throws to secure the victory. Walton Jr. finished with 12-points and seven rebounds, senior reserve center Max Bielfeldt also chipping in eight-points and eight boards.
"I love the way our kids responded today," Beilein said afterward. "The preparation for the game, the way they responded from the very beginning of the game, the things that we had to change for our game plan against Rutgers; they just were really good at."
Michigan hung in in the first 20 minutes of action with sophomore walk-on Sean Lonergan earning some solid minutes after Zak Irvin picked up two fouls. The Wolverines also inserted sophomore Andrew Dakich into the game, burning his redshirt.
With the score locked at 16 and just over five minutes left in the half, Michigan kept afloat thanks to threes from Dawkins and redshirt freshman Mark Donnal as the Wolverines went into the halftime break up 24-22.
To start the second half, Michigan raced out to a 32-25 lead, the largest of the game to that point.
Following the first official media timeout, Rutgers stormed back with a 17-5 run including a thunderous two-handed dunk by D.J. Foreman, the assist coming from Myles Mack. Mack led Rutgers with 15-points and eight rebounds.
Michigan wouldn’t go quietly though. An Albrecht lay-in followed by back-to-back threes from Walton Jr. put the Wolverines back up 45-42. After an offensive rebound by Bielfeldt to give Michigan an extra possession, Bielfeldt knocked down a wide open three-pointer from the top of the key to cap off an 11-0 run.
Walton Jr. hit four straight free throws, Irvin nailing two more to seal the win for Michigan.
Video of John Beilein's post game press conference below (video via Brian Dohn).