ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan basketball team defeated Purdue University 79-75 on Saturday (Dec. 5) in the Wolverines' 500th game at Crisler Arena.
Sophomore wing Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]) led all scorers with a season-high 20 points and corralled seven rebounds. Junior wing LaVell Blanchard (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) and senior center Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS) added 18 and 14 points, respectively. Purdue had four players reach double digits, led by Willie Deane with 19 points. Darmetreis Kilgore chipped in 18 including 4-7 from three-point range, Rodney Smith scored 15 and John Allison had 11 for the Boilermakers.
Purdue opened the scoring as Brett Buscher scored an early fast-break layup and then hit another bucket in transition to put the Boilermakers up 4-0 early. Deane made it a 7-0 run after a steal and short jumper while being fouled allowed him to make it a three-point play. Blanchard got U-M on the board with a three from the wing at 17:41 as the shot clock was winding down. Young added a dunk after an entry pass from Leon Jones (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep [Mass.]). With 15:44 to play in the half, Michigan still found itself down 11-5.
Out of the timeout, Young scored another basket in close. Chuck Bailey (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS) brought the Maize and Blue within two with a two-handed dunk on a pass from Robinson Jr. Then a steal in the Purdue backcourt and dunk by Robinson Jr. put Michigan on an 8-2 run. Michigan tied the game as Dommanic Ingerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS) scored his first points of the Big Ten season on a short runner. Two free throws from the Boilermakers, however, gave them back the lead, 17-15, with 11:57 remaining in the half.
Bailey tied the score at 17 and then Ingerson tied it again at 19, allowing Blanchard to give Michigan its first lead of the game on a free throw with 9:40 left and the scoreboard reading 20-19. Avery Queen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Redemption Christian Academy [N.Y.]) got his first points of the game on a three-pointer, but Purdue answered with a quick three of its own. With 7:23 to play Michigan still held the lead, 27-24, with the help of a Young layin.
After a fast-break runner off the backboard by Ingerson, a steal by Queen on Purdue's ensuing outlet pass resulted in a short jumper by Robinson Jr., forcing a Purdue timeout as Michigan went up by seven at 31-24. Two more free throws by Blanchard made it an 8-2 run as Michigan still led by seven, 33-26, with 3:46 to play.
Free throws by Blanchard and a tip-in by Robinson Jr. gave Michigan a quick double-digit lead before Purdue cut the lead back to nine. Michigan would go into the locker room up 39-30 after Queen rebounded a Purdue miss and drove the length of the floor to hit a floater in the lane as time expired in the half. Michigan was led offensively by Blanchard in the first half as he had 10 points and three rebounds. Queen ignited Michigan from the defensive end of the floor with three steals, two of which resulted in U-M baskets. Kilgore paced Purdue with nine points.
Purdue's Allison opened the scoring in the second half a little over a minute in, but Young responded for Michigan on its next possession. Purdue then went on a short 6-2 run to cut Michigan's lead to six. Gavin Groninger (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS) put the Wolverines back up by eight with two free throws, and another basket by Groninger on a fast break put Michigan up 48-38 with 15:58 left.
Six points by Purdue around a Robinson Jr. layin forced a Michigan timeout as the lead had been cut back to six. The Boilermakers quickly made it a four-point game, but Young pushed it back to six, 52-46, with 11:56 to play in the game. Once again Purdue cut the lead to four, but U-M responded with a Queen triple. After trading baskets, Purdue shortened the lead to three after a fast break from a stolen pass. Michigan, however, remained resilient as Young gave Michigan a five-point lead with 8:23 to play.
A Blanchard three-pointer and Young dunk helped the Maize and Blue regain control as the lead was pushed back to eight with just under six minutes to play. A Groninger three from the corner brought the crowd to its feet as U-M then led 67-56. With 3:47 remaining, Michigan held a 10-point lead after another Blanchard jumper, 69-59.
Out of the final media timeout, Kilgore hit back-to-back three-pointers which forced U-M to take a quick timeout with its lead cut to four. Four free throws by Robinson Jr. gave Michigan an eight-point lead with 1:17 on the clock. Purdue refused to quit, though, as a layup and a three-pointer by Deane cut the lead to 73-70 with 54 seconds left in the game.
After curling off a screen, Robinson Jr. drove and hit a layup to give U-M a five-point lead, but a three by Rodney Smith cut the lead to 75-73 with 15 seconds left. Groninger hit two crucial free throws with 13 seconds left to make it a two-possession game for Purdue. The Boilermakers were unable to execute on their next trip down the floor, resulting in a turnover. Two more Robinson Jr. free throws iced the game as Michigan prevailed 79-75.
The Wolverines will hit the Big Ten road again as the Maize and Blue heads to Minneapolis, Minn., to take on Minnesota on Wednesday (Jan. 9, 7 p.m. CST) at Williams Arena.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423