‘Encouraging’ effort not enough for Purdue to pull second straight upset
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 6, 2013 11:30PM
Purdue guard/forward D.J. Byrd, left, checks on teammate Sandi Marcius after Marcius was injured during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in West Lafayette, Ind. Michigan won 80-75. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Updated: April 8, 2013 8:10AM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Terone Johnson had a career game. Sandi Marcius continued his inspired play, before rolling his ankle, what proved to be a turning point in the game. Rapheal Davis played with passion. Throw in Dru Anthrop doing the little things.
But it all still wasn’t enough for Purdue on Wednesday night against No. 7 Michigan at Mackey Arena. Mostly, it was too much Trey Burke for the Boilermakers.
They turned in a similarly strong performance to the one at Wisconsin, but the result was different this time, falling to the Wolverines 80-75. Purdue (14-16, 7-10 Big Ten), now guaranteed to finish the regular season below .500, rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit, then squandered a 12-point second-half lead against Michigan (25-5, 12-5), which remained in contention for a share of the regular-season conference title.
“It’s encouraging, but we’re not happy about it,” said Johnson, who poured in a career-high 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting and added seven rebounds. “It’s encouraging to get better, to see how good of a team they are and be able to stick around. But that’s not what we really wanted to do — we wanted to come in and get a win that we thought we could’ve got.”
It largely was Burke who prevented that outcome. He scored 26 points, including 22 in the second half — all in the final 12:14 — to spearhead Michigan’s comeback. He also had seven assists.
“One thing you want to try your best to do is get him out of rhythm,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “But when he makes speed dribble step-back pull-ups, you’re going to shake his hand a couple times. He made a couple unbelievable shots on the run.”
Still, Burke left the door slightly ajar for the Boilermakers in the game’s waning seconds. He missed a free throw with 10.5 seconds, leaving the score 78-75. But Terone Johnson, as he was setting up for a potential tying 3-pointer, mishandled Ronnie Johnson’s pass, and Burke came up with the ball.
“It was good pass,” Terone said. “It just slipped through my hands. I tried to come to the ball and it just slipped out of my hands. It was a really good play, it was what we planned to do — find me in the corner, and that’s what he did. I just lost the ball.”
Marcius had a career-high 13 points — including the Boilermakers’ first nine of the game to keep them afloat, despite not starting — and five rebounds in just 18 minutes. He turned his right ankle with 13:45 left in the game, briefly attempted to return, then had to sit out for the duration.
“The last few games, Sandi has done a good job for us with his energy and his effort,” said Anthrop, who had a career-high five rebounds. “You can tell he gives us life, he gets us going. If he keeps playing like that, it’s going to help us a lot.”
Who knew Marcius had become that valuable for Purdue?
“He was the person that got everybody going,” Terone said. “This last couple weeks here, he’s been the hardest worker we have inside. … When he hurt his ankle, we kind of lagged a little bit as far as ball-screen defense. We appreciate what he’s been giving us.
“You always miss that spirit from him. He’s a big energy booster. When he makes hard plays, he’s up on his feet, he’s getting hyped, even when he’s on the bench or in the game. He’ll make a hustle play, and you’d think he made four 3s in a row. That’s a great person that we need out there with us.”
Davis had 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds for Purdue. Nik Stauskas had 17 — including five straight to give Michigan a 69-64 lead with 2:29 left — and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 16.
The Wolverines had used a 10-0 run to take a 19-7 lead with 11:54 left in the first half, and they still led 21-9 with 9:33 left. But the Boilermakers seized a 34-30 halftime lead, before building a 52-40 edge when Terone scored with 12:03 left.
“We simply couldn’t stop them in the last eight minutes,” said Painter, adding he would have liked to have seen this Purdue team six weeks ago.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t come away with a victory for our guys’ confidence. … They’ve worked really hard to make some strides at this point; they just don’t quite piece it together. But you’re also playing one of the Top 5 teams in the country. We just have to keep going.”
Purdue closes the regular season against Minnesota on Saturday at home.
“We’ve all come together toward the end of the season,” Davis said. “We’ve saved our best basketball for last. We’re just playing hard — playing as hard as we have been, practicing as hard as we have been. We’re just putting everything together, and just trying to play hard. We’re playing for the coaches, playing for the alumni and playing for the fans, and just forgetting about ourselves.”