With No. 1 Duke going down in emphatic fashion on Wednesday night the door has once again opened in regards to debating who should sit atop the polls next week. One team in the discussion is No. 2 Michigan, but with Purdue hitting seven three-pointers (on 13 attempts) in the first half and taking a 33-32 lead into the intermission an upset at Crisler Arena was a real possibility.
John Beilein’s team would play better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and with Purdue failing to make a single three-pointer in the final 20 minutes (0-of-9) Michigan pulled away for the 68-53 victory.
Trey Burke led four Michigan starters in double figures with 15 points while also dishing out eight assists and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 13 as Michigan moved to 18-1 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play, keeping pace in the loss column with Michigan State (6-1) and Indiana (5-1).
Terone Johnson led the Boilermakers with 14 points and D.J. Byrd added 11, but their second half cold spell from deep led to an opportunity for a valuable victory slipping from Purdue’s (10-9, 3-3) grasp.
On the night Purdue shot 7-of-22 from beyond the arc and 38.9% overall, and they went more than four minutes in the second half without a field goal as a 40-38 lead turned into a 49-40 deficit.
Also of note for Michigan was the play of their freshmen, with Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas scoring 12 points apiece and Mitch McGary tallying all six of his points in the second half.
Next up for Michigan is a trip to Illinois on Sunday night, with the Fighting Illini coming off of a 71-51 win over Nebraska to snap a three-game losing streak. Illinois has been on a cold streak from beyond the arc, shooting just 24.8% in conference games, but with players such as Brandon Paul they’re capable of waking up.
Rankings don’t mean a great deal in January, but if Michigan can take that step to the top of the polls it would be a nice achievement for John Beilein’s program given where Michigan was when he arrived in Ann Arbor.