Seniors get message, help No. 20 Boilermakers pull away late with 87-70 win over Michigan



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WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Purdue's Rapheal Davis spent all week contemplating the mistakes he made in last weekend.

On Thursday night, he made the corrections.

The Boilermakers' defensive stopper scored 16 points, had six assists and five rebounds and A.J. Hammons added 17 points and four blocks to help No. 20 Purdue pull away from Michigan 87-70.

"I let my teammates down big time against Iowa. You have to place the blame somewhere and I felt it should have been placed on me," Davis said. "My message is that you keep playing as hard as you can and things will work out."

They certainly did Thursday.

Davis helped shut down Michigan's usually potent shooters. Hammons, the 7-foot senior center, dominated the middle and eventually, the Boilermakers (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) wore down the short-handed Wolverines at the end of each half.

The Boilermakers (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) seized control with a 16-4 flurry to close the first half then maintained a relatively safe distance throughout the second half until finally putting the Wolverines away with a late 12-0 run.

Purdue has won eight of its last 10 and is 10-1 at home this season. Johnny Hill, the only other senior who gets regular playing time, finished with 10 points.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan (12-4, 2-1) with a career-high 25 points. Derrick Walton Jr. added 12 points as the Wolverines' six-game winning streak ended.

Michigan was not itself with leading scorer Caris LeVert missing his second straight game because of a lower left leg injury, and Davis didn't make things any easier.

While the Wolverines made 11 3-pointers, they went 10 of 31 from the field in the first half and weren't much better in the second half.

"Post defense is something you work at, then you play the best in the country at post offense and it's an eye opener," coach John Beilein said. "It didn't help us that A.J. Hammons was terrific on defense."

The Boilermakers started the game shooting 3 of 15 from the field and looked almost as bad as they did in the second half of Saturday's loss to Iowa, but they regrouped and made that last run in the first half to take a 35-28 lead.

Purdue made it 45-35 early in the second half. When Michigan closed to within five, Purdue answered with an 8-2 spurt to make it 58-47.

The Wolverines cut the deficit to 66-60 when Zak Irvin made three free throws with 5:20 to play. But this time, Dakota Mathias made a 3 to start the closing run.

"We took care of the ball in those moments, not turning it over or getting frazzled, or taking a quick bad shot," Davis said. "When it got close, guys made plays."

STILL MISSING

LeVert traveled with the team and dressed in sweat pants but there was no word from Beilein about how much more time their top player could miss. LeVert leads the Wolverines in scoring (17.6 points), rebounds (5.4) and assists (5.2).

MIDDLE MEN

With the 7-foot Hammons, 7-2 Isaac Haas and 6-9, 250-pound freshman Caleb Swanigan, the Boilermakers have dominated the middle most of the season. Thursday was no exception. They outscored Michigan 42-18 in the paint and were 9 of 11 from inside the arc in the second half.

FREEBIES

After struggling at the free-throw line last season and through the first two games this season (64.4 percent) Purdue has made a drastic turnaround. Over the last 14 games, the Boilermakers have made 79.8 percent from the line including 18 of 21 against Michigan.

TIP-INS

Michigan: Came into the game with the nation's sixth-best shooting percentage (50.9) but shot just 37.7 percent from the field Thursday. ... The only other Wolverines player to score in double figures was Duncan Robinson with 10. ... This was the first of three straight games the Wolverines play against ranked teams.

Purdue: Hammons, Purdue's leading scorer, made his first start of the season. ... The Boilermakers outscored Michigan 26-9 off the bench and had 26 assists. ... Purdue held its 14th opponent this season below its scoring average. Michigan was averaging 79.3 points.

UP NEXT

Michigan hosts No. 3 Maryland on Tuesday.

Purdue visits Illinois on Sunday.

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