Purdue-Michigan: Wolverines Stifle Purdue, Give MSU Two-Game Lead in Big Ten

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2009

DeShawn Sims gave Michigan a 77-61 lead with 4:48 to go and the Wolverines kept Purdue at a distance the rest of the way to secure an 87-78 victory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

One game after being embarrassed by second-to-last place Iowa, Michigan's best stood tall against the powerful Boilermaker lineup.  Sims poured in a season-high 29 points and sophomore guard Manny Harris added 25.

Michigan (18-11 overall, 8-8 Big Ten) shot a blistering 63 percent (29-for-46) for the game, including 50 percent from behind the three-point arc (8-for-16).  The Wolverines won the battle of the boards, 26-24, as Harris and Sims led the way with eight and five, respectively.

Purdue (21-7, 10-5) shot 46 percent for the game, but struggled from three-point range (7-for-24, 29 percent).

Forward Robbie Hummel dropped in 24 points for Purdue and E'Twuan Moore contributed 18, but the Boilermakers received little help from the bench.  Failing to hit from behind the line, however, Moore hit one of six from three.

Star forward JuJuan Johnson sat much of the game in foul trouble and scored just six points for Purdue.

After falling to a 16-point deficit, the Boilermakers inched closer in the final four minutes, but never came closer than six down the stretch.  Manny Harris added a breakaway dunk with 15 seconds to go, securing the nine-point win.

Perhaps their biggest win in years, the Wolverines boosted their chance at gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.  Michigan has not gone dancing since 1998 and now sits at 8-8 in conference.  They earned quality wins against Duke, UCLA, and Purdue to build a strong case in support of their tournament hopes.

Losing their fifth conference game, Purdue virtually guaranteed Michigan State a share of the Big Ten title.  Leading Illinois by two games and Purdue by two-and-a-half, the first-place Spartans play three more games, at Illinois, at Indiana, and a final home showdown against the Boilermakers.

With MSU's next win, it will earn a share of the title.  If they win two, the Spartans secure a spot alone at the top.  Though Illinois and Purdue give Michigan State plenty to worry about, conference doormat Indiana (1-14, 6-21) has lost 17 of 18, and does not have the weapons to compete with the mighty Spartans.