March 8, 1998
By MIKE NADEL
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) - The 3-pointers weren't falling, so the "Tractor" dominated
inside. And Michigan made history.
Robert Traylor bulled his 300-pound body over, past and through defenders
for 24 points, 13 rebounds and MVP honors as No. 17 Michigan won the inaugural
Big Ten tournament by beating No. 9 Purdue 76-67 Sunday.
Maceo Baston added 16 points off the bench for the Wolverines (24-8), who
climbed into the stands with the Michigan cheering section to celebrate their
13th conference title but first since 1986. Again, Traylor led the way,
hoisting his huge body over the press table and into the arms of his
"We love each other. We fought through unbelievable things this year,"
said Michigan interim coach Brian Ellerbe, who replaced the fired Steve Fisher
just before practice began.
The Wolverines will take a seven-game winning streak into the NCAA
Brad Miller had 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Purdue (26-7),
which failed in its bid for a record 22nd Big Ten championship. Fellow senior
Chad Austin, who had 41 points in Purdue's first two tournament games, scored
only six on 2-for-14 shooting.
After going 23-for-41 from 3-point range in their first two games, the
Wolverines were only 5-for-15 Sunday.
Instead, they won by pounding the ball inside - into the massive hands of
the 6-foot-8 Traylor, who simply couldn't be stopped when he caught the ball in
the low post.
Traylor went 12-for-16 from the field, completing the tournament at
26-for-41. He also pulled down 38 rebounds in Michigan's three games.
And just to make sure the Boilermakers would never forget him, he shoved
Brian Cardinal in the back and practically twisted off Mike Robinson's head in
Michigan trailed 40-38 before Traylor backed in for a bank shot over the
6-11 Miller and then stole the ball from Cardinal and drove the length of the
court for a dunk. Jerod Ward also had a dunk and Louis Bullock completed the
9-0 run with a jam and free throw for a 47-40 lead with 14:59 left.
Miller drove for a basket to cut Purdue's deficit to 55-51 with 9:13
remaining before Bullock's 3-pointer began another 9-0 run that included a post
move by Traylor and dunk by Baston.
Bullock, who scored only 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting, clinched the
victory with a short jumper off a baseline drive as the shot clock expired with
50 seconds left for a 72-65 lead.
Purdue led 33-31 at halftime as Miller had 11 points, five rebounds, four
assists and two blocked shots. Purdue is 20-2 this season when leading at
halftime and 114-6 over the past six years.