Even John Beilein said it: Michigan’s 68-64 win on Wednesday night at Rutgers wasn’t an attractive win.
But at this point in the season, and with the Wolverines in pursuit of a spot in the NCAA Tournament, wins are at a premium. Michigan (18-10, 8-7 Big Ten) gutted out the 4-point win against the conference cellar-dweller despite free-throw shooting (14 of 23) that was at times shaky and a 3-point shooting effort that really struggled (10 of 31).
The victory at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J., was only Michigan’s second true road win of the season. Still, Michigan helped Beilein earn his 500th win as a Division I basketball coach. Zak Irvin led Michigan with 16 points, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 14. Rutgers fell to 13-16 overall and 2-14 in the Big Ten.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 23, 2017
Here’s what Beilein had to say after the win:
On the Michigan Sports Radio Network:
On meeting with Michigan fans in Piscataway after the game: “We’ve got a lot of Michigan fans, they all come out for these games, and I want to make sure they stay Michigan fans.”
On how Michigan pulled out a win against a persistent Rutgers team: “(The Scarlet Knights are) really, really gritty. They did everything. There was nothing pretty about this game. We just got enough times to do something. … I know that is not going to continue to happen, but we made just enough plays.
“We showed a lot of fortitude to stay in there, when nothing could go in there down the stretch.”
On Michigan’s leadership against Rutgers: “Don’t forget Muhammad-Ali. He did a tremendous job, as well. We had some lapses. We’re really tired right now and we had to gut that out, and we did.
On rebounding — Michigan had 40 to Rutgers’ 33: “It was everything. Rutgers had 1 offensive rebound (in the first half), but I think in the second half they had more. We had to scrap and continue to scrap, and we had to come out with that win. We’re 8-8 now in the Big Ten? 8-7. I like 8-7 better than 8-8, and now we have a better team coming in Saturday with Purdue.”
Also from Beilein following the win at Rutgers, via the Detroit Free Press’ Facebook Live:
What a loss at Rutgers would mean: “We just talked about, win the next game. … We played teams that are tough to beat at home. We haven’t had teams where you really have to do a great job at home, but it was a really great win for us.”
What a win does confidence-wise: “This would be 4 out of 5. The road thing, we haven’t been killers on the road. Look at the road teams we’ve played. South Carolina and UCLA on the road, those are road games going into conference. We lost to Michigan State and Wisconsin on the road … and winning on the road in the Big Ten is going to be really hard.
“It was big for us just to get another ‘W.’ … This league is way underrated for how well it’s going to do in March.”
On D.J. Wilson grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive glass: “D.J. had 2 offensive rebounds the last five games. I hadn’t noticed it. Mo (Wagner) has been getting 6, and that’s a huge number. Now D.J. has 6. That’s huge, and he just has to go there.”
On winning his 500th Division I game: “I didn’t know if I’d ever be a Division I coach, ever. When I didn’t get the Colgate job way back when, I thought, ‘I’m never going to get a break.’ … I’m really pleased it all worked out. Canisius gave me a huge break, and so did Richmond, and so did West Virginia and Michigan. I’ve really been blessed with a good staff, good coaches.”