As much as Michigan basketball fans may like Corey Person, and as much as they may root for him for being a walk-on warrior, they still can’t be happy that Person is the only one on the team that will look back on senior night fondly.

Person had four points in garbage time on Saturday night in Michigan’s 75-61 loss to Purdue, tearing through the defense for one layup and collecting another off an offensive rebound. They were the first two field goals of his career — and likely the last two — meaning he’ll have something good to remember this game by.

But for the rest of the Wolverines, especially fellow seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, the loss to the Boilermakers represents nothing but disappointment, frustration and sadness.

Two players who have done as much for their program as Novak and Douglass have — while being undervalued and overlooked the entire time — deserved better than this. They deserved to go out from the Crisler Center on a winning note.

It’s a cruel twist of fate that, instead, their last home game ended in a loss that simultaneously crippled Michigan’s hopes of winning its first Big Ten title since 1986 and ruined what would have been the best home record in the team’s history (16-0).

It was clear early on that it wasn’t the Wolverines’ night. They fell behind early, missing their shots while Purdue made most of its attempts.

The bounces just went the Boilermakers’ way. Point guard Lewis Jackson hadn’t made a 3-pointer in any conference game, but that didn’t stop him from draining one on Saturday. Travis Carroll is a 6-foot-9 backup big man who doesn’t have an outside game to speak of, but he still hit two long jumpers. Guard Terone Johnson came into the game averaging 7.6 points and had never scored more than 16 points in his career, yet he put up 22 points to lead all scorers against Michigan.

Add it all up and you get an upset.

“Stu told the team in the looker room, he said, ‘If this helps us get better — I didn’t come to Michigan to win on senior night,’ ” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “’I came to Michigan to win.’

“If you know this team, I hope that trend continues (that) when we get beat by a team that plays better that night, that we get better ourselves.”

You wouldn’t expect those words to come from the mouth of a senior who just suffered one of the more disappointing losses of the season in his last-ever home game. Indeed, after the game, Novak — notorious for being the definition of inconsolable after a loss, almost a waste of time to try to interview — was more forthcoming and even-keeled than he’s ever been after a defeat.

And if Douglass and Novak truly aren’t killing themselves after such a tough loss, they’re well justified. As is usually the case, nobody played harder than them on Saturday night. As is usually the case, they put everything they had into trying to win the game. The duo didn’t always play its best, but effort wasn’t lacking.

They each had some big moments. Douglass hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in succession to quell Purdue’s momentum after the road team had gone up 12-4 to start the game. Novak nailed a 3-pointer after grabbing an offensive rebound, left open by the Boilermakers — they didn’t notice him, just like they (and just about every other school) didn’t notice him as a middling recruit.

And as is usually the case, the pair’s real contributions were in areas that don’t show up on the box score: Toughness, heart, leadership. But it wasn’t enough to top Purdue, and even if they didn’t fully show it, Novak and Douglass have to be crushed.

“It was just as disappointing as every other loss, but it just hurts worse because it’s (Novak’s and Douglass’s) last home game,” said freshman point guard Trey Burke. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get a win tonight … (but) we got to look forward, man.”

Burke has that luxury. He still has the rest of his burgeoning career to look forward to. Novak and Douglass just have the rest of this season, and then it’s over. They’re in the middle of building their final memories, and Saturday won’t be a fond one.

Douglass talked about how far the program has come when he sat down to discuss his career with the media last week. He said that, as exciting as the two Selection Sunday gatherings were that the team has had in his stint, it’s important to get Michigan to the point where just making the Big Dance isn’t something to celebrate — instead, the celebration should be for making it far in the Big Dance.

And in the end, that’s Novak’s and Douglass’s greatest accomplishment as Wolverines. Through their leadership and steady hand, for every foreseeable year in the future, Michigan’s season will just be beginning in March, as is the case now.

But the basketball gods aren’t always fair, and Saturday is proof. The pair of Indiana nobodies who made Michigan basketball relevant again will be forced to look back on their senior night with a grimace. For all the team may achieve this year, that will still be an unfortunate truth.

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