By David Mitchell
After losing to rival Michigan State Sunday afternoon in East Lansing the Michigan Basketball team returned home to Crisler Center to face another tough Big Ten opponent in Purdue. First year head coach Juwan Howard is still searching to give his team an identity. Howard continues to mix up starting line-ups searching for that winning combination.
Howard is still searching to fill the void left by the injury to junior forward Isaiah Livers. Against the Boilermakers Howard started Brandon Johns Jr, in place of Livers. Johns Jr. Is a sophomore from East Lansing who has not been able to get into a rhythm. The 6-8 power forward is making the most of his extended playing time averaging 19 minutes a game but has yet to put up significant numbers posting just 8.7 points a game
Senior center Jon Teske is leading the Wolverines averaging 15.7 points per game. At 7-1 if Teske can stay out of foul trouble he is a valuable asset. In his place back-up Austin “Big Country” Davis has done an outstanding job coming off the bench. Davis a native of Onsted is making the most of his senior year averaging 7.5 points per game and giving Michigan a much needed physical presence underneath the basket.
Michigan led Purdue 32-28 at halftime. Despite Jon Teske’s 8, and Brandon Johns Jr’s 7 points, the first half scoring belonged to Purdue’s Trevion Williams. Williams a powerful 6-9 270 pound big man moved freely down low and gave Teske all he could handle. “Every night you play in the Big Ten you know you are going up against a good big man,” said Jon Teske who went on to say, “Williams is very skilled and he remained composed throughout the game.”
The second half was a see saw battle with each team exchanging baskets. Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson led the backcourt and made key baskets down the stretch. “I have one of the toughest point guards in the country.” Said head coach Juwan Howard. “But what I’m impressed with the most is that he’s always ready to work”
At the 7:20 mark of the second half with the score 51-49 in favor of Purdue coach Howard assembled his team and gave critical instructions on how to regain and sustain the lead. After that time out the Wolverines came out with a new fight, especially big man Jon Teske. “We just stuck together and fought throughout the game.”said Teske. “We were not going to lose this game.”
Teske fought hard all night against a very physical Trevion Williams. Teske came up big when it counted most, grabbing clutch rebounds and draining critical free throws down the stretch. Along with his teammates Teske forced Purdue to end regulation time in a 62-62 tie forcing overtime. “John is a competitor.” Said Howard. “Williams had to earn every one of those points tonight. It was like a heavy weight fight out there.”
Not only did Michigan battle to go into one overtime, they fought even harder and forced a second overtime. Senior point guard Zavier Simpson led the Wolverines with 22 points and a commanding 9 assists. Purdue was led by a dominant performance by Trevion Williams who totaled 36 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Though losing the scoring battle of the big men Jon Teske won the war leading the Wolverines to victory and found a way to defend their home court and walk off with a decisive 84-78 double overtime victory. Michigan’s record now improves to 11-4 and an even 2-2 in the Big Ten.