Michigan can't recover from first-half flurry and falls to No. 1 Purdue, 75-70

James Hawkins, The Detroit News on

Published in Basketball

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One marquee matchup after another this season, Michigan has come up short.

It happened against Virginia. It happened at neutral sites against Kentucky and North Carolina. It happened at Michigan State.

In its biggest game yet, it happened once again Thursday night as Michigan couldn’t recover from a first-half flurry against No. 1 Purdue and had the time run out on its late charge in a 75-70 loss at a packed Crisler Center.

Junior center Hunter Dickinson had 21 points on 14 shots and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin scored 16 for Michigan (11-9, 5-4 Big Ten), which shot 44.1% from the field (26 for 59) en route to the program’s 13th consecutive loss to the nation’s top-ranked team.

After making a late surge to chop a 13-point deficit down to six at halftime, Michigan stumbled out of the break and quickly fell behind by double digits once again. Purdue took advantage of back-to-back turnovers with an open 3-pointer from Fletcher Loyer and another bucket down low for Zach Edey to make it 46-35 roughly a minute into the second half.

Bufkin reeled the Boilermakers back in each time they went up by double figures and kept the Wolverines in it. He made his first four shots of the second half, including a 3-pointer, to cut Purdue’s lead down to six before a driving layup by junior forward Jace Howard pulled Michigan within 53-48 with 12:32 to play.

But each time the Wolverines got close, the Boilermakers kept them at bay. After Michigan cut it to 58-53 on a floater by freshman guard Dug McDaniel, Purdue responded with a 3-pointer. Then after another McDaniel basket cut it to six, the Boilermakers answered with back-to-back baskets in the paint to make it 65-55 with 6:28 remaining.

The Wolverines managed to make things interesting in the finale minute. After Dickinson hit a deep 3-pointer, Edey missed the front end of a one-and-one and grad transfer wing Joey Baker scored on layup to make it 71-67 with 14 seconds left.

Then after Loyer made two free throws, Baker banked in a 3-pointer to make it 73-70 with five seconds left. But it was too little, too late as Michigan suffered another close loss to another ranked foe.


The Wolverines were without freshman wing Jett Howard, who suffered a left ankle injury in Sunday’s win over Minnesota. Baker replaced Howard in the starting lineup and finished with 11 points in 29 minutes.

Edey finished with 19 points on 16 shots and nine rebounds, Loyer added 17 points and Braden Smith scored 10 for Purdue (20-1, 9-1), which shot 54% from the floor (27 for 50).

The battle between the big men didn’t disappoint as Dickinson and Edey went back and forth from the start. Edey backed down Dickinson for a pair of baskets inside and tipped in a missed layup attempt as he scored Purdue’s first seven points.

Dickinson countered with a 3-pointer from straightaway, spun around Edey for a layup while being fouled, blocked a shot at the rim and dished out an assist as the Wolverines jumped out to a 13-7 lead with 16:24 left in the first half.

When Dickinson and Edey both went to the bench for a stretch, Michigan couldn’t hold on to the lead. Purdue made four consecutive shots — all on layups — and made two free throws after a technical foul was assessed on freshman center Tarris Reed Jr. following a dunk to tie it at 22 at the 11:17 mark.

When Dickinson and Edey checked back in, the two went back to work as the teams traded the lead. Edey hit a pair of short hook shots over Dickinson to put Purdue in front. Dickinson found freshman guard Dug McDaniel in the corner for a 3-pointer and batted away his own missed shot at the rim that landed in the hands of sophomore guard Isaiah Barnes for a short jumper that put Michigan ahead.

Purdue eventually created separation as the Wolverines went cold from the field and the Boilermakers continued to get what they wanted in the paint. Edey made two more close-range baskets to spark a 15-0 burst that included a pair of layups from Loyer and put Purdue up, 41-28, with 3:06 left in the half.

Michigan responded by closing the half on a 7-0 run. After Bufkin snapped a five-minute scoring drought with a layup, Dickinson splashed a corner 3-pointer and made two free throws to cut the deficit to 41-35 at the break.

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