No. 14 Purdue 73, Michigan 67
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) _ Written off as a title contender at the beginning of the year, surprising Purdue finished the regular season with a 73-67 victory over Michigan on Sunday to clinch its second straight Big Ten championship.
The No. 14-ranked Boilermakers, who lost college player of the year Glenn Robinson to the NBA and were picked no higher than sixth in most preseason conference forecasts, earned the Big Ten’s automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.
Cuonzo Martin scored 17 points and Matt Waddell added 14 as Purdue (24-6, 15-3) won its eighth straight game, its 14th victory in the past 15 games, and finished one game ahead of No. 9 Michigan State. Michigan (17-13, 11-7), losing its fifth straight game on the road, finished third in the conference.
It is the first time Purdue has won consecutive Big Ten titles outright.
Martin, a 6-foot-6 senior, had only three points in the first half and spent much of the period on the bench with two fouls. But he scored eight during a 10-0 Purdue run at the start of the second half as the Boilermakers took their biggest lead at 43-27.
Seniors Ray Jackson and Jimmy King, the last of Michigan’s Fab Five freshmen of three years ago, led a comeback that brought the Wolverines within four points in the closing minutes. A basket and free throw by King and two free throws by Jackson made it 63-59 with 2:17 to go before a basket by Purdue’s Porter Roberts halted the rally.
The next four Purdue points came on free throws, then a fast-break layup by Waddell made it 71-62 with 20 seconds to go. Jackson, who led Michigan with 22 points, got the final five points for the Wolverines and Roberts added two free throws.
The victory avenged a 10-point loss at Michigan early in the season.
Michigan led by four points early in the rematch and was still ahead 12-11 before Purdue took control with a 13-4 run. The Wolverines went without a field goal for almost seven minutes but still trailed only 26-21 before a 3-pointer by Waddell.
Roy Hairston and Brandon Branltley hit one free throw apiece, then two free throws by Waddell gave Purdue its biggest lead of the half at 33-23 with just over a minute to go.
Two foul shots by Jackson and a basket by Maurice Taylor at the buzzer cut Purdue’s lead to six points at the break, 33-27.
Taylor and King backed Jackson with 16 points apiece. Roberts and Brad Miller added 12 apiece for the Boilermakers.