Michigan beats Purdue, keeps title hopes alive
by Mark Snyder, USA TODAY Sports
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Hope is alive.
Apparently Michigan can take a lesson.
After two games watching an opponent rally from a double-digit deficit on them in the second half, the Wolverines showed they were watching.
Michigan came back from 12 down with 12 minutes to play at Mackey Arena to rip an upset from the Boilermakers, 80-75, Wednesday night.
The win keeps the Wolverines in the hunt for a Big Ten title on Sunday when they host Indiana.
All No. 8 Michigan (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten) needed was another heroic performance from Trey Burke, putting up 26 points, 22 in the second half.
While the middle 20 minutes of the game were among the Wolverines’ worst this season (outside of East Lansing), the start and especially the finish made up for it.
Not that this was a sterling defensive performance, with Purdue’s Terone Johnson exceeding Burke with his own 32-point night. But for the second game in a row, the margin didn’t matter. The result did as Purdue (14-16, 7-10) couldn’t hang on.
Unlike the implosions Michigan watched the previous two games, they came back in chunks.
Burke lit a fire by taking over.
After his absent first half with only four points, Burke reeled off 15 of Michigan’s 20 points as they raced back into the game, then took the lead for the first time of the second half at 59-58.
Though the teams traded the lead down the stretch, Michigan at least had a chance.
After Michigan tied the game early in the second half at 34, Purdue showed its toughness, going on a 16-5 run to build the lead out to 11.
The first half looked like Michigan’s recent finishes to games.
The Wolverines pushed the lead to 12 points and led by 10 with seven minutes to play in the half, even with an array of missed layups and dunks.
But they were still keeping Purdue at arm’s length.
Then the familiar implosion arrived as the Boilermakers outscored Michigan, 14-2, over the final four minutes of the half to take a 34-30 lead into the break.
While Tim Hardaway Jr. was aggressive, scoring 11 first-half points, they didn’t come easy as he … [For more on Michigan rallies by Purdue to keep Big Ten title hopes alive, click here.]