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Michigan 61, #18 Purdue 56: Never Say Die

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After a devastating week, Michigan responds with their most resilient effort of the season.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan (19-7, 9-4) knocked off #18 Purdue (20-5, 8-5), 61-56, in a slugfest at Crisler.

The story going into it was Caris LeVert's return, but that certainly wasn't the story coming out of it as LeVert didn't score in his 11 minutes or play in the second half.

The story is that, despite a lengthy second-half scoring drought that saw Michigan make only one of 15 shots, the Wolverines, who have struggled greatly on defense in recent weeks, dug in deep on the defensive end and kept the game close. A.J. Hammons was able to extend Purdue's lead to six when he hit a straightaway jumper with 3:13 left, but that's when Michigan's offense finally woke up. Zak Irvin buried a three, Derrick Walton had a spectacular finish at the rim over Hammons' long arms, and Irvin connected on a mid-range jumper in three straight trips to give Michigan a 57-56 lead with a minute left. Purdue had two different chances to regain the lead, but Caleb Swanigan missed a short jumper and Ryan Cline a wing three. Purdue wouldn't score again, and Walton would make his free throws to seal it, helping the Wolverines tally the final 11 points in a game that will pay serious dividends come Selection Sunday.

Early on, Purdue took it inside again and again as expected, not firing a three until the 9:31 mark of the first half. And why not, as the Hammons-Swanigan-Isaac Haas triumvirate posed matchup nightmares for the Wolverines' four-guard lineup. Nonetheless, Michigan didn't allow Purdue's physicality to overpower them and went into the locker room down only 31-27 largely on the back of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who finished with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals, as Irvin and Walton really struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm in the first half.

However, Irvin completely turned it around in the second half, carrying Michigan's offense for much it. He nailed timely jumper after timely jumper, posting 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting, while Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle provided laudable efforts in the defensive paint to limit the imposing Purdue bigs. This kept Michigan in the game until the Wolverines were able to steal the game away from Purdue in the final minutes.

Michigan shot 5-20 from behind the arc and held a team that's calling card is big, physical forwards to under 60 in a win today -- what a time to be alive. Now John Beilein's team shifts its attention towards Columbus, where they'll take on the Buckeyes on Tuesday.