Every Michigan fan had their heart in their throat as Caris LeVert threw a looping pass to the opposite side of the court with time winding down in overtime. They needn’t have worried, as a former Mr. Basketball in Indiana hit a layup to win the game at the buzzer. Glenn Robinson III’s final points would be his most important, as the Michigan Wolverines held on to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers, 77-76 in West Lafayette.
Michigan retains its outright lead in the Big Ten, improving to 12-3 in conference and 20-7 on the season. Purdue dropped to 15-13, and this was their tenth loss in the Big Ten.
No one would have predicted a Michigan victory after the first half. The Wolverines failed to get to double digits ten minutes into the game, and at one point, trailed by 19. At that point, the Wolverines had made 14 percent of their shots, compared to Purdue’s 50 percent. Michigan missed deep ball after deep ball, as Purdue continued to knock down their shots from beyond the arc.
The Johnson brothers, Ronnie and Terone, were the catalysts for the Boilermaker attack. No matter what defender Michigan put on the two, the pair managed to hit. Ronnie ended up with 21, as Terone scored a game-high 24 points.
The second half saw the Wolverines fight back, but Purdue would not relinquish their lead for a long time. Purdue answered every Michigan basket, and the lead seemingly stayed at 11 for an eternity.
Michigan then used a variety of players to get back in the game. An alley-oop from Spike Albrecht to Robinson brought the pesky 11 point lead to 9. Nik Stauskas pulled up to a hit bank shot, and the lead was seven. A Zak Irvin three-pointer brought it down to 4. Irvin was fouled and made all 3 free throws to bring Michigan the closest they had been to a lead.
Purdue would fight back, and eventually the lead would grow back to 6. LeVert would then step up to hit a pair of free throws, steal a pass and get a layup. Moments later, Robinson and Stauskas each hit a pair to tie the game up. Michigan had the ball with 15.8 seconds left. The Wolverines called a timeout and ran a play to get the Canadian assassin the ball. Stauskas had a shot that hit the front of the rim, and the game went to overtime.
Stauskas started overtime with a thunderous dunk that gave Michigan its first lead of the game. The rest of overtime featured Albrecht and LeVert finding Jordan Morgan for dunks. Purdue would continue to answer, and Michigan again found themselves with the ball and a chance to take the lead. However, Stauskas missed a layup near the end of overtime that would have given Michigan a one point lead. Purdue had a chance to put themselves up by three, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, their only missed free throw of the game. Michigan got the rebound, and John Beilein called a timeout with 2.9 seconds left. That’s when the magic of LeVert to Robinson occurred.
Michigan’s best players were Morgan and Robinson. Morgan had 13 points and 10 rebounds, all while locking down Purdue big man AJ Hammons. Morgan grabbed a couple of key boards down the stretch that led to Michigan buckets.
Robinson was another story. Criticized all season for either lacking aggression or shooting too much, the sophomore stepped up in his home state. He hit a couple of jumpers off the dribble, and took the ball into the paint for some pretty floaters. He added eight rebounds and three assists to his team-high 17 points. He chipped in a steal and a block on defense, having one of his best all around games. His smile as he ran off the court was a mile wide, and he showed why he is still one of the premier basketball players in the nation.
Michigan’s next game is on Saturday at the Crisler Center. The Wolverines face the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are looking for another resume win for the NCAA tournament. Michigan looks to maintain its spot atop the Big Ten standings, looking for its first outright conference title since 1986.
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