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Purdue finds just a few more answers than Michigan in narrow victory

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Weathering a surreal second-half shot-making by Michigan with an equally prolific offensive blitz of its own, third-ranked Purdue simply outscored No. 25 Michigan Thursday night en route to its school-record-tying 16th consecutive win and their ninth Big Ten win in as many tries.

“This is what you come to a Big Ten school to play basketball for, this environment, ” said Boilermaker senior Vincent Edwards, who scored a career-high 30. “This atmosphere, to be on this stage. It’s huge.

“That second half was a dream to play in. We all soaked it in. It was a really good game, a fun game to play.”

Purdue won out in the end — and now sits alone in first place in the Big Ten following Penn State’s win at Ohio State — in a game that saw he lead change hands two dozen times, Michigan striking back every time the home struck, led by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s 26 points, as he made the same sort of H-O-R-S-E threes in the second half that Purdue’s Carsen Edwards did in the first to push Purdue out to a lead that peaked at nine.

No lead was safe for Purdue, particularly not in the second half, when the Boilermakers needed 63-percent shooting to overcome Michigan’s 67-percent shooting.

All those glowing defensive metrics Purdue’s been able to cite lately, they took a punch to the gut today, but none of that mattered afterward, as the Boilermakers merely put more points on the board than an opponent they were hard-pressed to stop.

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“The one thing we normally do is when we have some breakdowns defensively — in the past, not just this year — it’s affected our offensive game,” Coach Matt Painter said, “and I don’t think it affected our offensive game tonight, which is a great sign, a sign of maturity as a team that (says) even though things aren’t going our way … we kept our poise about us and still executed at the offensive end, and the same can be said for (Michigan).”

In this season of “pick your poison” themes regarding Purdue’s offense, Michigan took its chances with center Isaac Haas and it didn’t go so well, as Haas scored 24, most of them against Moritz Wagner head to head, on 10-of-14 shooting. When he wasn’t shooting, he was handing out important second-half assists as Purdue kept pace with the surging Wolverines.

But while Michigan sought to take away one of Purdue’s offensive extremes, it succeeded with neither.

Purdue made 11-of-20 threes.

“They had open threes (in the first game) at Michigan,” Wolverine coach John Beilein said. “Today, they weren’t as open, and they still made them. That’s why they’re so good.”

Though the second-half was basketball chaos for an extended stretch, Purdue settled in enough to use a 14-2 run to lead by nine with 5:38 to play, after Vincent Edwards scored seven straight, then hit Haas for an and-one that put Purdue up 77-70, before Carsen Edwards’ steal led to two foul shots that pushed it to nine.

But Wagner made a three — after an offensive rebound, so three of Michigan’s 19 second-chance points — then scored on a drive to quickly cut it to four.

But from there, Purdue found some defensive answers and made its free throws to close out its second win over the Wolverines in the span of five games, this one nearly as dramatic as the last.

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