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Isaiah Livers misses Michigan's victory over Rutgers, is day to day

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Piscataway, N.J. — The health hurdles keep coming for junior forward Isaiah Livers.

Livers missed his 10th game of the season on Wednesday night and was a spectator for Michigan’s 60-52 win over Rutgers due to a right ankle injury.

According to coach Juwan Howard, Livers was ruled out before pregame warm-ups at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

However, it's unclear how long Livers, who was wearing a walking boot, will be sidelined. Howard didn’t have a medical update on Livers’ status following the game.

“Day to day,” Howard said. “That's the best I can tell.”

Isaiah Livers

Howard said Livers practiced with the team on Tuesday but didn’t do “a lot of up and down” full-court action.

“I noticed that he had a little bit of limp and I said, 'Hey, you know what, let us rest it a little bit and we'll see how it responds tomorrow,’” Howard said. “He came in today and it was a little stiff. He had a nice shoot-around and I just made a game-time decision that I think it's best for him to rest it.”

Howard added Livers was emotional when he found out he wasn’t going to be suiting up.

"We have to continue to stay positive and support him through the process because the kid wants to play,” Howard said. “He wanted to be out there to help his brothers go out here and compete against a tough team like Rutgers.”

Livers has dealt with three injuries this season. The first, a left groin injury on Dec. 21 against Presbyterian, cost him six games. He returned on Jan. 25 against Illinois, only to suffer a lower-body injury to his hip and groin area in his first game back.

After missing three more contests, Livers was back in the lineup on Feb. 8 against Michigan State and looked like his old self. Two games later, Livers injured his ankle in Sunday’s win against Indiana when a player fell into the back of his lower right leg.

Livers told the Big Ten Network on Monday his status for Wednesday was "definitely looking positive" and he was optimistic he’d play against Rutgers. But that didn’t happen after Howard didn't like what he saw from Livers at practice.

Sophomore forward Brandon Johns Jr., once again, took Livers' place in the starting lineup. Howard was better prepared for the lineup change and "wasn't in tears" this time around.

Howard said he gave the baseball manager's signal to a bullpen reliever — a tap on the arm — to Johns before the game to let him know he was filling in. Johns dealt with foul trouble and finished with one point and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

Despite Johns' rough performance, the Wolverines handed the Scarlet Knights their first home loss of the season and improved to 5-5 without Livers in the lineup.

Michigan's next game is Saturday at Purdue.

"Obviously, Isaiah is a big part of the team," senior guard Zavier Simpson said. "With him being injured, the most we can do is help continue to be a positive spirit.

“We can't dwell on it. We have to move on, keep him in our prayers, stay positive, make sure he's doing the best he can with his recovery work and continue to move on.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins