Only Purdue could not trail for a single second of regulation, yet still find a way to lose.
That's all you can really say after that one. For most of the first half Purdue, and especially Terone Johnson, could do no wrong. At the under 8 timeout of the first half Purdue was firmly in control at 27-8 and TJ was playing very, very angry. Good Purdue had showed up and the effort was there combined with very poor early shooting for Michigan.
As we're accustomed to, Purdue could not handle success. Michigan played a lot more like Michigan in the second half and Purdue saw its lead slowly dwindle before Michigan was able to tie it with less than a minute left. The overtime was back and forth, but when Kendall Stephens, Purdue's best free throw shooter, corralled a rebound with 12 seconds left, the Boilers looked to be in great position.
You know what happened next. Stephens bricked the front end of a one-and-one, Michigan got a loose ball that went off about 17 different players, and after a timeout Glenn Robinson III twisted the knife by hitting the game-winner in the same building where his dad's number hangs with honor on the rafters.
You know it is a bad season when Purdue plays its most complete game of the season, Michigan struggles greatly, and Purdue still can't win. Look at the stats. It is hard to believe Purdue lost:
- Purdue, a poor team at the line, was 17 of 18.
- Michigan shot 41.5% from the field when they needed 60% in Ann Arbor to beat Purdue by less than 10.
- Purdue won the rebounding battle.
- Purdue played with high effort and was attacking the rim.
- There was solid coaching there tonight, including the play drawn up by Painter that got Ronnie Johnson to the line for our last lead.
It still wasn't enough.
Make no mistake about this: Purdue choked. I don't care who you are playing, but when you blow a 19 point first half lead in less than 20 minutes (Michigan was within a possession with 10 minutes left) that is a choke job. I credit the Wolverines for never backing down because they knew they had plenty of time to come back from 19 down. That is what championship level teams do. Without a terrible injury, this game was a lot like That Night in The Barn when Purdue lost Hummel, fell behind big, but gutted out a victory by sheer force of will.
This is why Michigan is where it is and Purdue is where it is. Both teams have young, talented rosters, but Michigan had the mental fortitude to handle its business and fight back. Purdue could not handle that same success. The Johnson brothers went back to hero ball and played too many possessions late where they thought they were the only two players on the floor even though they had been playing well.
Both teams played solid team basketball and were nearly even tonight. Michigan was simply better when it mattered most.