Michigan players talk about the team's performance and coming up short in Thursday's 92-88 loss at Mackey Arena. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
West Lafayette, Ind. — The first clash between Michigan and Purdue was a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire.
Round 2 followed a similar script, but at a dizzying offensive pace.
When the dust from a second-half shooting display settled, a late 14-2 run and string of brutal empty possessions led to Michigan’s undoing in a 92-88 loss Thursday at a packed Mackey Arena.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored a career-high 26 points for No. 25 Michigan (17-6, 6-4 Big Ten), which shot 60.3 percent (35-for-58) from the field but allowed Purdue to shoot 62 percent (31-for-50). Zavier Simpson added 16 points, Moritz Wagner 15 and Charles Matthews 10.
Vincent Edwards scored 30, Isaac Haas 24 and Carsen Edwards 13 for No. 3 Purdue (20-2, 9-0), which pushed its win streak to 16 games and completed its first home-and-home sweep of Michigan since 2008.
“You can't win a game without defense and they scored 92 points on us,” Wagner said. “Regardless of how good we played (offensively) and how many shots we made, we got to be better defensively."
After showing its resolve and hanging close throughout the first half, Michigan made eight of its first 10 shots to open the second half and used a 10-2 run highlighted by 3-pointers from Wagner and Abdur-Rahkman to take a 52-51 lead over Purdue with 16:03 remaining.
That triggered a wild back-and-forth as Purdue and Michigan traded blows and the lead 12 times over the next five-plus minutes, the last coming on an Abdur-Rahkman 3-pointer to give Michigan a 65-63 lead with 10:36 left.
Abdur-Rahkman buried a fadeaway 3-pointer to put Michigan back up by three at the 9:38 mark but Purdue didn't blink and rattled off a 14-2 run to pull ahead 79-70 four minutes later and put the Wolverines on their heels.
Michigan managed to piece together stops on defense and clawed back as Wagner scored five straight points on a 3-pointer and driving layup to cut it to four with 4:03 remaining.
But three consecutive empty possessions down the stretch for Michigan proved costly as Haas threw down a one-handed dunk and made two free throws to give Purdue an 83-77 lead at the 1:17 mark.
“We had two turnovers, really bad turnovers,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “We had a turnover out of bounds, a turnover on a moving screen and then we had two more. It's so hard to get a stop and we missed two layups in that, too. We had an over-the-top layup, layup at the basket and we missed them all.
“You got to really finish those plays and you can't turn the ball over during that time. We could have got out of here with a 'W.' It's incredible, they didn't miss a shot and we could've come out of here with a 'W.’”
Matthews hit a jumper and Abdur-Rahkman drained a 3-pointer to give Michigan a last-gasp chance, 85-82, with 31 seconds left but Simpson missed two free throws with 18 seconds remaining and Purdue salted the game away with five free throws in the final 16 seconds.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “They're a great team and they're playing at home. Any night you're playing on the road in the Big Ten is going to be tough. Shots were going in and we knew we just had to weather their storm as much as possible and try to bounce back. We didn't do that in the end.”
Unlike the first matchup, Michigan was patient in its offensive sets from the start and took a 12-8 lead with 13:50 left in the first half behind five points from Abdur-Rahkman on a 3-pointer and driving layup.
But just like the first meeting, Haas shouldered the load in the early stages. He made four of his first five shots while being guarded one-on-one in the post, the last coming on a three-point play to cap a 6-0 spurt that gave the Boilermakers a 14-12 edge at the 12:17 mark.
Mistakes and unforced errors by Michigan helped fuel a 17-5 Purdue run that gave the Boilermakers a 31-22 lead with 5:11 left in the half and put the Wolverines in danger. The spurt started after Michigan allowed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw that led to a Vincent Edwards 3-pointer before a Wagner turnover turned into a Haas layup on the other end. Carsen Edwards capped the flurry with a 3-pointer off a Matthews turnover.
Michigan managed to stem the tide as Simpson and Jon Teske combined to score Michigan’s final 12 points of the half to keep it close before Carsen Edwards drilled a 3-pointer with six seconds left to put Purdue up, 41-36, at the break.
"We played some really good teams, and this team twice, tough," Beilein said. "It means you can play with a lot of people. But just playing with them wasn't why we're here. To win was why we're here."
John Niyo and Tony Paul talk with UM senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, the school's new career points leader. Later: More hoops with James Hawkins and Matt Charboneau. Detroit News