Associated Press photos Michigan players celebrate after beating Purdue to win the Big Ten Tournament championship Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Michigan backup center Jon Teske dunks the ball on Purdue center Isaac Haas during the second half Sunday. Teske finished with 14 points, 12 in the first half.
Monday, March 05, 2018 1:00 am
Big Ten Tournament
Poor effort at the Garden
Boilers never really challenge Wolverines, lose championship game
MICHAEL J. LEWIS | For The Journal Gazette
NEW YORK – It was maybe the final indignity, following an afternoon that didn't go at all according to how Purdue senior guard P.J. Thompson had hoped.
As Thompson sat at a locker in Madison Square Garden after his team's 75-66 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament title game, a name placard lay above his head and behind him.
The Boilermakers were occupying what is normally the New York Knicks locker room, and staring down at Thompson was a photo of current Knicks player Trey Burke, a former Michigan standout.
“Yeah,” Thompson laughed, then sighed when it was pointed out. “What are you gonna do?”
There wasn't much Purdue was able to do Sunday as its second Big Ten title game appearance in three years ended with the same result as the one from 2016: a loss.
With star guard Carsen Edwards suffering a poor shooting night, Vincent Edwards also hobbling, and the Wolverines' offense ball-screening Purdue with success over and over, the Boilermakers never could take control of the game and saw a heavy Michigan crowd of 15,063 celebrate for most of the game.
Purdue (28-6) allowed Michigan to shoot 50 percent, and the Boilermakers were just 4 for 17 from 3-point range.
But what Thompson found most troubling was the effort.
“I don't think we came out with a championship effort,” Thompson said. “Obviously it's three games in three days, your shots might not be there, but you can have a championship effort, and mentality that they're not going to outtough us, but I think they did.”
The Boilers, seeking their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2009, defeated Michigan twice this season by a combined five points. But the difference early Sunday was a player nobody thought would have an effect on the title game: Michigan's 7-foot-1 backup center Jon Teske.
Teske had scored a total of four points in the last three games for the Wolverines, but Sunday in the first half he was unstoppable. He poured in 12 first-half points and more than made up for the poor first halves put up by Michigan's top two scorers, Mo Wagner (the tournament's Most Outstanding Player) and Charles Matthews combined for seven points.
Teske finished with 14.
“I mean, he was on the scouting report, but you don't expect him to come off the bench and score like that,” Vincent Edwards said. “We weren't communicating; we weren't talking. Guys were trying, but we were making too many miscues.”
On defense, the fifth-seeded Wolverines hounded Carsen Edwards into a 4-for-16 shooting night. He was far from the only Boiler struggling, as Dakota Mathias made only 4 of 11 shots and Vincent Edwards was 2 for 6.
“I thought (Carsen) just really didn't get into a rhythm,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
“He had a couple of drivers that didn't go down for him, and he had a couple of 3s where he could never get back-to-back pull-ups to get into that rhythm.”
Despite being down only five at the half, Purdue never was able to make a run after intermission.
Hanging in early in the second half thanks to a terrific performance by Isaac Haas (23 points, eight rebounds), the Boilers were in striking distance, down 42-37.
But consecutive 3-pointers from Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson boosted Michigan (28-7) to a 48-37 lead, its biggest of the game, forcing Painter to call a timeout five minutes into the half, and Purdue never really got close after that.
In the final minute there was a little drama as Purdue cut the lead to seven with 51 seconds left, but a Carsen Edwards drive came up short, and the Boilermakers could only watch the seconds tick away on another lost opportunity at history.
Vincent Edwards, the senior forward who said after the game his sore left ankle “was killing” him, sat out the final seven minutes after exchanging words with Painter after being pulled.
“Me and Coach Painter exchanged what we exchanged, and at the end of the day it is what it is. I'm here to be here for my team and help my team,” Edwards said.
“We wanted guys to go out there and have energy,” Painter said when asked why Edwards sat. “At that point in the game, when you get down like that you're searching as a coach, you want guys to be able to bring energy, and I was just trying to get Nojel (Eastern) and Grady (Eifert) out there.”