Feb. 25, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan coach John Beilein thinks his team tends to improve after they lose tough games.
If that's true, the 11th-ranked Wolverines should finish the season in style.
They lost their chance at an undefeated home season when they fell to Purdue 75-61 on Saturday.
"When we've gotten beaten by a team that plays that well, we usually get better ourselves," Beilein said. "They just played a tremendous game on both ends of the floor, and we couldn't match them."
Michigan (21-8, 11-5 Big Ten) was 15-0 at the Crisler Center coming into Senior Night, but couldn't finish off the third unbeated home season in school history. Trey Burke and senior captain Zack Novak led Michigan with 12 points each, while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 10.
"Our goals for this season didn't include winning on Senior Night, and
going undefeated wasn't that high on the list, either," Novak said. "That was a team that needed a win, and they came in and got one from us. We didn't make shots and they made everything."
"If you are going to beat a team like Michigan on the road, you need someone to have a career night," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "That's what Terone did for us. He was fantastic."
The Boilermakers (19-10, 9-7 Big Ten) won for the fourth time in five games, improving their postseason resume.
"We can't start thinking about the tournament yet," Painter said. "Our next game is against a team (Penn State) that beat us by 20 this year, so we need to focus strictly on that."
Johnson hadn't scored more than 16 points in a game and was averaging 7.6. But he took over against the Wolverines in what he called the best game of his career.
"I think it must be," he said. "I had a career high, but not only that, I thought I played pretty good on the defensive end. That was the important part - keeping Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke out of the lane."
Burke's two free throws tied the game at 40 with 13:02 to play, and the Boilermakers immediately turned the ball over. Jordan Morgan's basket gave Michigan its first lead, but Purdue answered with a 12-3 run to go up 52-45 with 6:30 left.
Michigan rallied, but Johnson answered with a three-point play. Hummel then hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Boilermakers led 61-51 with 3:31 left.
Both coaches thought those 3-pointers changed the game.
"They were key," Painter said. "He'd be a little off all night, but he knocked down those two just as we needed them."
Beilein said both shots came after defensive breakdowns.
"We made two big mistakes, and Hummel made us pay for them," he said. "That was the point where they got separation from us. Ten points there is a lot bigger than four points."
Another three-point play from Johnson ended Michigan's dream of a 16-0 home record and perhaps a top-10 ranking going into the Big Ten tournament.
"He was huge," Hummel said. "We've seen this before, but he's never put it all together in a game like this. He got to the basket at will, and he made plays."
Purdue got off to a quick start and led by 11 midway through the first half. Burke finally got involved at that point, and his seven points helped Michigan pull within 32-28 at halftime.