As Michigan and Purdue waited for the tipoof Thursday night at Crisler Arena, Michigan men’s basketball junior DeShawn Sims pointed to guards C.J. Lee and Stu Douglass. He was letting them know that he was planning on winning the tip against the taller and lengthier JaJuan Johnson, Purdue’s 6-foot-10 center.
Sims not only won the tip, but he went right after Johnson on the offensive end, scoring on a crafty reverse layup. The trend would continue all night during the Wolverines’ 87-78 victory over No. 16 Purdue last night. It was the third highest point total Purdue (10-5 Big Ten, 21-7 overall) has given up this season and the most points Michigan has scored since Dec. 20 against Oakland.
Sparked by a clip from Any Given Sunday before the game, the win makes up for last Sunday’s heartbreaking overtime loss at Iowa and puts Michigan (8-8, 18-11) back into serious consideration for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. With No. 20 Illinois taking down Minnesota on Thursday, Michigan is now tied for seventh in the Big Ten with the Golden Gophers. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin are tied for fourth.
Since it was the last regular season home game of the year, seniors Jevohn Shepherd, C.J. Lee and David Merritt were honored prior to the game. The trio received framed jerseys and all three scored, as Lee had six, Shepherd four and Merritt two.
The Wolverines shot an astounding 17-21 in the second half on their way to scoring 50 points. When Johnson returned to the game with 7:58 remaining in the second half after picking up his fourth foul earlier in the half, Sims went right after him. He scored on a reverse layup and then a reverse dunk. The latter sparked a 7-0 run, which was capped off by a 3-pointer by Sims to extend Michigan’s lead to 16. Sims was impressive in the paint, scoring on jump hooks, floaters, jump shots and slipping screens for easy layups. He ended the night with 29 points.
Coupled by sophomore Manny Harris, who scored 27 points to become the sixth Michigan sophomore to surpass the 1000-point scoring mark, the duo dominated Purdue all night. It was the first time since Nov. 28 against Savannah State that the Detroit natives both scored more than 20 points.
The Wolverines took advantage of three fouls from Johnson in the first half and went into halftime up three. The play of the half belonged to freshman Stu Douglass, who after stealing the ball from Purdue guard Bobby Riddell at halfcourt, slung the ball over his head to a running Zack Novak. The freshman found a slashing Harris who finished the play with an and-one at the expense of Riddell. The play put Michigan up five just before the half.
The Wolverines next matchup is at Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m.