Purdue-Michigan Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 24, 2012
While helping transform Michigan into a Big Ten title contender in his fifth season as coach, John Beilein has the program on the verge of finishing unbeaten at home for the first time in 35 years. Only one potentially desperate team stands in the way. The 11th-ranked Wolverines look to keep pace in the chase for the regular-season conference title Saturday when it hosts Purdue, which seeks a signature victory to bolster its NCAA tournament resume. Michigan fought off another opponent seeking a similar victory to post its fourth straight win Tuesday. The Wolverines' hopes for their first Big Ten regular-season championship since 1986 would have taken a big blow with a loss at Northwestern, and they trailed by seven at halftime before going on to win 67-55 in overtime. Freshman Trey Burke finished with a game-high 19 points. Burke, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass opened overtime with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, and Michigan's 38 3-point attempts were its most since hoisting 40 in an overtime win at Indiana on Jan. 7, 2009. "We have good enough shooters that we were going to make those shots eventually," said Beilein, whose squad made 14 from long range. The Wolverines (21-7, 11-4) enter Saturday tied for second place in the Big Ten with No. 8 Ohio State, one game behind sixth-ranked Michigan State. Douglass said a conference title would mean a great deal, especially to him and Novak - the only two seniors in Michigan's regular rotation. "We've been through so much and seen so much. We have the same chip on our shoulder, and people have the same doubts about both of us," Douglass told the Wolverines' official website. "Just to bring this program along like we both have, to see where it's gone from our freshman year through the last four years; we're both really proud of it." Douglass and Novak will be honored for Senior Night on Saturday as Michigan closes its home schedule. The Wolverines have won all 15 of their home games, most recently defeating the Buckeyes 56-51 last Saturday, and are looking to give the program its first perfect home record since going 14-0 in 1976-77. "We know they're undefeated at home," Purdue's Lewis Jackson said. "We're still looking for that big-time, resume-(building) win, so why not be the team to go up there and give them their first loss for our resume?" A win could go a long way to securing an NCAA tournament bid for the Boilermakers, who are 0-7 against Top 25 teams. Purdue (18-10, 8-7) has won three of four after beating Nebraska 83-65 at home on Wednesday. "I think we're clicking at the right time," said Robbie Hummel, who scored a season-high 29 points and is averaging 24.8 over his last four games. "The team is really coming together. It's a thing where you don't want to peak too early, but we're peaking at the right time, and hopefully we can carry that into these last few games, into the Big Ten tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament." Hummel scored 16 points but missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in a 66-64 home loss to Michigan on Jan. 24. Jackson led Purdue with 17 points. Burke scored a game-high 19 in that game, only Michigan's third win in the past 10 meetings. Purdue has won two of the last three in Ann Arbor.
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