WEST LAFAYETTE — It’s never good to go into a key matchup on the road missing any players. But without the Big Ten’s leading scorer — junior forward Manny Harris — Michigan’s chances to upset No. 15 Purdue seemed handcuffed from the get-go.

Citing “an act of unsportsmanlike conduct,” Michigan coach John Beilein announced that he had suspended Harris before Saturday’s game at Purdue. Harris had started in 85 straight contests.

“Manny has made great strides both on and off the court over the last three years,” Beilein said in a statement through the athletic department. “Unfortunately he used poor judgment on Friday. We will meet with Manny and the team again when we return to determine if he has learned enough from this suspension to rejoin the team for Tuesday’s game. I am confident that this learning experience will be valuable in the future to both Manny and our basketball program.”

But it was clear that without their star in action, it would be a long day for the Wolverines.

Michigan struggled without Harris, particularly in the first half. With redshirt junior Anthony Wright starting, the Wolverines couldn’t find a scorer to complement senior forward DeShawn Sims.

In fact, Sims scored the team’s first 13 points. And it wasn’t until sophomore Zack Novak hit a 3-pointer with 7:28 to play in the first half that someone other than Sims had even registered a point.

“I think early on we were pretty darn good getting the ball to DeShawn Sims,” Beilein said. “I mean really good getting the ball to DeShawn, then they shut something down that we were doing and for us to adapt, it was difficult.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Michigan was being forced to adapt to Harris’s absence just one day after the incident at practice took place. As the Big Ten’s leading scorer, any gameplan is going to involve Harris, but with little time to adjust their strategy, Michigan really struggled keeping pace.

“Outside of guarding DeShawn Sims for the first 20 minutes, we did a really good job guarding everyone else,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “They obviously took a huge blow with Manny not playing this game, and that’s 20 points just ripped off your lines. It’s a difficult thing to count on somebody and they’re not there.”

And in many cases it seemed that Michigan’s only option was to force it to Sims, even when he wasn’t there.

“I think I was really looking to get the ball to DeShawn,” Wright said. “That was pretty much my first option.”

It wasn’t until the second half that Michigan finally found that alternate scorer, but by then Purdue was firmly in control of the game, stretching their lead to as many as 27 points.

Novak contributed 16 points for the Wolverines on 6-for-11 shooting, but scored 13 of those in the second half when Michigan was already out of the game. Perhaps more important, without Harris in the lineup, the Wolverines forced their offense, committing 15 turnovers, and losing the rebound battle to Purdue 16-6 in the first half.

It wasn’t the first time Harris has created mid-season controversy. Last year, Beilein benched his star in a key overtime game against Iowa — which Michigan lost — down the stretch when the Wolverines were chasing an NCAA Tournament berth.

Beilein has not announced whether Harris will play against the Spartans. He said it would be a team decision.

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