For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
WEST LAFAYETTE – In the end, Michigan found a way.
The No. 16 Wolverines (20-7 overall, 12-3 in the Big Ten) overcame a 19-point first-half deficit on the road to edge Purdue 77-76 in overtime. That gives them a one-game lead over Michigan State in the Big Ten race with three games left.
Purdue fell to 15-13 and 5-10.
The Boilers got 22 points from Terone Johnson and 21 from Ronnie Johnson. Rapheal Davis had his first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“I was impressed with Purdue,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “In the first half they were incredible. We backed off on defense daring them to shoot. It didn't work. We tightened up in the second half. Our kids were resilient.”
Here are some of the keys to the Purdue loss:
Robinson, the 6-6 son of former Purdue great Glenn Robinson, and the brother of future Boiler football player Gelen Robinson, totaled 17 points and eight rebounds, 14 points and seven rebounds after halftime.
His family was there to watch, especially the last play, when Caris LeVert threw a long in-bounds pass that Robinson caught, got open past Rapheal Davis, and banged in the game-winner at the buzzer.
“Coach drew up a great play,” Robinson said. “I told Caris to throw the ball up there and I'd go get it. I jumped as high as I could. (Davis) kind of over ran it. The ball was rolling around the rim. I prayed it would go in.
“This was a great win for us. My teammates know how much it meant to me, especially with my dad playing here and me being from Indiana (he attended Lake Central High School in northwest Indiana).
The Boilers gave up five straight inside baskets, including two Jordan Morgan dunks, in the extra session. They were without center A.J. Hammons, who fouled out near the end of regulation.
“There's no doubt (Hammons) would have helped defending the rim,” coach Matt Painter said. “A couple of those baskets Jordan Morgan made had nothing to do with the guy guarding him. It was our weak side defense didn't come over.
“We did a poor job down the stretch with our weak side defense and ball screen defense. I thought through the course of the game we did a pretty good job with that. We lost our focus.”
Hammons had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes before fouling out late in regulation. Without him and forward Jay Simpson (sidelined by dizziness), Purdue had no inside size to protect the basket.
“I would have liked to have had A.J there at the end at the rim,” Painter said. “Some people put their size on the ball. I like to put our size at the rim. Without AJ, without Jay, we didn't have anybody to be there.
“Our guys have defensed that play. (Davis) did a good job of recognizing it. He was there enough to where he thought he could get it. He tried to get it and over ran the play. You've got to get the ball or be there on the catch and make him score over you. Once Robinson got past him, we didn't have any size there. He wasn't going against a shot blocker. He made a good play.”
Purdue was 17-for-18 from the line. The miss came at the end of overtime, when freshman Kendall Stephens missed the front end of a bonus with 12.2 seconds left. Michigan got the rebound and, eventually, the victory.
“You talk to him about it,” Painter said, “but you don't talk to him right there. It's part of the game. He'll make the next one. When he gets back in that situation, he'll make the next one.
“There are a lot of really good players who have been in that situation and missed them. Those are the ones that make you a better player. They sit with you for a long time. He'll always remember that. It's just like a coach not forgetting a loss. That's how you learn.”
Purdue led 37-24 at halftime, and had a chance to put the Wolverines away. But Michigan gradually closed the gap before forcing a tie and overtime.
“We got up 19 in the first half,” Painter said. “We were up 13 in the second half. They were able to make a run and score some baskets. We had a turnover and a couple of bad shots. They were able to convert at the other end.”