Michigan, as it has so often during this disappointing season, turned to Louis Bullock. And, the sure-shooting senior guard responded in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.
Bullock scored 10 of his 26 points in the final four minutes of regulation and the Wolverines, behind a key 3-pointer in overtime from backcourt mate Robbie Reid and Bullock's tip-in of his own miss, beat Purdue 79-73 Thursday.
Defending Big Ten tourney champ Michigan (12-18) faces this: win it all again or go without a postseason NCAA or NIT berth for the first time since 1983.
Thanks to Bullock they have at least one more game. That comes in Friday's quarterfinals against second-seeded Ohio State.
Purdue (19-12), which lost to Michigan in the Big Ten tourney finals last year, will still probably go to the NCAAs. But the Boilermakers are struggling. They have lost five of their last six games and are unranked for the first time since 1996.
Brian Cardinal scored a career-high 33 points for Purdue and Greg McQuay added 16. Leading scorer Jaraan Cornell managed just five - 11 under his average- before fouling out with 7:20 left in regulation.
Michigan had a 71-70 lead in overtime when Reid hit an NBA-length 3-pointer for a four-point cushion. The Wolverines played the extra period without starters Brandon Smith and Peter Vigner, who fouled out.
Michigan's Josh Asselin, who added 19 points, made two free throws for a six-point lead.
After Alan Eldridge hit a 3-pointer to bring the Boilermakers within 76-73 with 1:05 left, Bullock drove for the basket, missed nd then tipped it in with 32 seconds remaining.
McQuay's follow, Cardinal's three-point play, two free throws and a 3-pointer capped a 16-5 run that gave Purdue a 65-59 lead with 3:35 left.
But Bullock connected on back-to-back 3-pointers and then sank two free throws after a Purdue miss as the Wolverines went up 67-65 with 1:38 left.
| Michigan kept the pressure on Purdue Thursday. (AP)|
McQuay worked inside for a tying layup with 41.9 seconds lefts after the Boilermakers got an offensive rebound.
Michigan had three chances to win in the closing seconds. Leon Jones missed two jumpers and after Cardinal slapped the ball out of bounds with less than second left, Reid's desperation jumper hit the side of the basket.
McQuay's six points and 3-pointers by Cardinal and Cornell sparked a 16-0 Purdue first-half run that opened up a 30-16 lead.
But Michigan answered with a 12-2 spurt of its own and a late 3-pointer by Reid brought the Wolverines within 39-35 at the half.
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