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January 24, 2012After Michigan surged to a 41-31 lead less than four minutes into the second half, Purdue coach Matt Painter changed his approach.
Painter yanked Jacob Lawson and kept Travis Carroll on the bench and opted to go with Robbie Hummel at center in a small lineup on Tuesday.
The switch helped the Boilermakers surge over the next seven minutes - until traditional big man Carroll re-entered the game - and take a 51-47 lead.
"I think it really helped us offensively. There's no question it put them in a bind of what they were going to do and how they were going to guard us," Painter said after his team's 66-64 loss to the Wolverines in Mackey Arena.
"We were able to free (Hummel) for some shots. We were able to get them in rotations and move the basketball and get some open looks for other guys. So it helped us in that aspect. But our ball screen defense with the other guys, they struggled with what they were supposed to do. I don't know if it helped us defensively, but it helped us offensively."
When Purdue continued to struggle with Carroll back in the game - Michigan scored twice, and Purdue had a turnover and a missed shot on offense - Painter re-inserted D.J. Byrd for Carroll, moving Hummel back to the 5 spot.
Immediately, Hummel popped after setting a ball screen for Lewis Jackson, got the pass and then zipped it to Byrd in the corner for a three-pointer.
Painter never put a true center back into the game.
"When they went with Robbie Hummel as a 5 man, we hadn't seen it that much, and it was very difficult for us to guard," said Michigan coach John Beilein, who didn't have a player taller than 6-foot-9 play more than 15 minutes. "It was a great move by Matt. It really was a great offensive boost for them.
"Fortunately, they missed some shots to allow us to get the rebounds and win the game."
But Jackson's play was a huge reason Purdue even had a chance to beat the Wolverines.
He made 6-of-8 shots and 5 of 6 free throws for a team-high 17 points and had eights assists and two steals in 28 minutes. It was his two free throws that gave Purdue a 64-63 lead with 1:56 remaining.
He was content to set up teammates the rest of the way, not taking another shot. The last-ditch three wasn't counted officially as a shot.
"He did a good job - he's out there battling for us," Painter said. "You know what you're getting with him: He's going to go out there and battle. He's fighting through this (back injury) and giving his best."
Jackson routinely beat Michigan defenders off the dribble to the basket. His only two misses easily could have been baskets - he got to the rim but simply didn't get the shot to fall. Many of his eight assists were on drives and kick-outs, including one how-did-he-see-that pass off a baseline drive that led to a Ryne Smith three-pointer in the first half.
"He's just so quick - he adds an extra dimension to that team," Beilein said. "Sometimes it's not good to be 5-11. When you're that low, you are underneath everybody. I would assume people don't take many charges on him because he's so quick and he's so low to the ground."
The switch was made because Barlow has the flu, Painter said. Barlow played only nine minutes.
In 24 minutes, Johnson had four points, three rebounds, three turnovers and two steals. He also missed crucial free throws in the final 3:13.
With the game tied at 61, Johnson missed the first before making the second. With Purdue trailing 65-64 with 1:08 to play, he missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Johnson entered the game shooting only 34 percent from the line, though he'd made 8 of his previous 13 (62 percent) before Tuesday.
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