ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan got another impressive win for its NCAA Tournament resume but had to hold off a late rally by No. 14 Purdue before earning an 82-70 win Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center.
Michigan (19-10, 9-7 Big Ten) never trailed and led by 22 points with 8:14 left to play before Purdue (23-6, 12-4) cut the deficit to six points, 73-67, with 2:15 left.
Senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. found space around tight coverage and hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:43 left to give the Wolverines breathing room. The loss knocks Purdue into a tie with Wisconsin in the loss column for the Big Ten lead. Wisconsin (22-6, 11-4) plays at Michigan State (17-11, 9-6) on Sunday. Purdue does hold the tiebreaker over Wisconsin by virtue of an earlier head-to-head win against the Badgers.
The Wolverines shot 54.5 percent from the field to close out the home portion of their schedule with a second straight win over a ranked team vying for the conference lead. Michigan beat then No. 11-Wisconsin, 64-58, on Feb. 16.
Sophomore Moritz Wagner scored 24 points and Walton Jr. finished his Crisler career with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and no turnovers for Michigan.
Michigan shot 65.5 percent from the field (19 of 29) in the first half, including this buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Duncan Robinson to send the Wolverines to the locker room with a 45-30 lead.
— Michigan Nation24/7 (@247Wolverines) February 25, 2017
Why it happened
Michigan is a good shooting team. It’s especially good at Crisler Center, and that’s exactly what Michigan was Saturday. The Wolverines cooled down in the second half after making 19 of 29 shots in the first half. It was a similar tale when the Wolverines beat Indiana by 30 points and Michigan State by 29 points at Crisler earlier this season.
What it means
Purdue and Wisconsin are now even in the loss column at the top of the Big Ten standings. Michigan still has a shot at earning a top-four finish and double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Wagner was the hottest of a hot-shooting Wolverines bunch in the first half. He made 9 of 12 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 3-point attempts, scoring 22 of his career-high 24 points in the first half.
Caleb Swanigan is the favorite to win Big Ten Player of the Year honors but was barely noticeable Saturday. He still scored 18 points but had just five rebounds, well off his 12.9 per game average. In Swanigan’s defense, Michigan’s play made every Purdue player less than noticeable until the late rally attempt.
Who is next
Michigan plays its final two regular-season games on the road, starting at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at Northwestern (BTN).
Final: Michigan (19-10, 9-7) beats No. 14 Purdue (23-6, 12-4), 82-70 pic.twitter.com/CtXJgviqOr
— Kevin Goheen (@CincyGoGo) February 25, 2017