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January 30, 2014

Michigan turns Purdue away

Purdue-Michigan box score

With less than five seconds left in the first half at No. 10 Michigan Thursday night, Terone Johnson stepped to the foul line with a chance to get the Boilermakers within four at the break.

But A.J. Hammons stepped into the lane for a violation that negated the one-and-one try.

To make matters worse on its way to a 75-66 loss, Purdue broke down one last time defensively, allowing an end-to-end layup that put Michigan up eight - a four-point swing - at the half.

While a four-point deficit at the half still wouldn't have mattered one bit considering the Wolverines shot 68 percent in the game's final 20 minutes, it was that sequence that kind of summed up another frustrating loss for a team that's now lost three in a row.

"It was big, very big," said Purdue senior Sterling Carter, Purdue's bright spot defensively in a game in which there were few others. "It gave them momentum going into the half, then they hit a couple early shots (in the second half) and we had to battle back out of the hole we dug for ourselves in the first half."

The Wolverines tore the Boilermakers to shreds, as they've done to a lot of teams during their 10-game winning streak and 8-0 start in Big Ten play.

Michigan made four of its first five three-pointers and was 7-of-13 for the game.

Overall, it shot 54.2 percent in the first half, an astounding 68.2 in the second half.

So dwelling on Purdue's 2-for-14 three-point shooting or 8-of-15 foul shooting takes a backseat simply to the Boilermakers' inability to get stops.

"They were hitting some tough shots coming off ball screens," point guard Ronnie Johnson said. "They run a lot of ball screens and that's where we (struggle). They took advantage of that."

Big Ten Player-of-the-Year front-runner Nik Stauskas scored a team-high 16, while Walton made 6-of-7 shots in joining Caris Levert with 14 points. Walton made the buzzer-beating coast-to-coast layup to end the half, scored after he encountered Hammons in the lane, but navigated past him.

"That was my fault, both of them my fault," Hammons said, referring to the lane violation as well. "Coach told me to get back, but I wasn't really paying attention and I thought I could just stop the ball."

Purdue did show flashes though.

On defense it forced a typically ball-secure Michigan team into 16 turnovers, generating several transition scores off of them.

In the first half, the Boilermakers erased an early 10-point deficit with an 11-0 run, fueled by pressure, but plateaued again after taking a lead.

"When we make a run," Ronnie Johnson said, "we have to be able to keep the lead."

Matt Painter was frustrated again with shot selection early on, making quick substitutions and using walk-on Stephen Toyra for significant minutes.

"He's a good player," Painter said. "We played him in a couple games last year. … He works hard, he can make shots, he make plays. It's next man up if other guys aren't getting the job done and I thought he did a good job."

Backup big man Jay Simpson didn't play at all.

"He's got to learn to carry out what he needs to do on a daily basis. He does that, we'll play him," Painter said.

Such things would seem most unwelcome right now for Purdue, its struggles on the court of late being enough to worry about on their own.

After winning three in a row, Purdue's now lost three in a row.

"I feel like we just got complacent and guys started doing their own things," Carter said, "and getting away from what the coaching staff wants us to do. Now, we're trying to figure out how to get back to that and we're struggling."

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