WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The range of emotions inside Purdue’s locker room spoke volumes.
Kendall Stephens cringed. Ronnie Johnson was heartbroken. Terone Johnson acknowledged he was humbled. And that celebration they all expected after playing this hard Wednesday night was postponed thanks to the son of a former Purdue player.
Glenn Robinson III caught an across-the court lob pass in the right corner, spun away from a defender and then watched a short bank shot roll in to give No. 16 Michigan a 77-76 overtime victory on the same court his father once called home.
“I thought we had the game in our hands,” Terone Johnson said after scoring a season-high 22 points. “They just made one more play than us at the end.”
For the Boilermakers (15-13, 5-10 Big Ten), it was an excruciating blow. They have lost three straight and remain the only team in the conference without a win over a Top 25 team this season, though they seemed to be on the verge of one when Stephens went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 with a 76-75 lead and 12.2 seconds left. But the ball clanked off the front of the rim, the Boilermakers’ only missed free throw all night.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” Ronnie Johnson said, referring to the loss, not Stephens’ missed free throw. “Everyone came out and fought. We did our job most of the game.”
Purdue seemingly did enough.
Ronnie Johnson had 21 points and seven assists on a night all five Purdue starters scored in double figures. Their usually maligned defense held Big Ten-leading Michigan (20-7, 12-3) to less than 30 percent shooting in the first half. And after breaking to a 10-point lead, which got as big as 19 in the first half, the Boilermakers never trailed in regulation and only allowed Michigan to tie the score twice, both times coming in the final 2 minutes.
But Robinson delivered the final basket on a bittersweet night for his family.
Gelen Robinson, a soon-to-be Purdue football player, was in the crowd, cheering for his older brother. So was Glenn’s father, the former Boilermakers star and No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, who celebrated with his son in the semi-private Mackey Arena tunnel as he watched his favorite fans leave in stunned silence.
The younger Robinson proved he could be every bit as good as his father over the final 25 minutes.
He made six of his last eight shots and scored 14 of his 17 points – none more important than the ball that seemingly hung on the rim forever before finally dropping through the net – in the second half and overtime. Robinson had eight rebounds, three assists and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
“My teammates knew how much this game meant to me with my dad playing here and being from Indiana,” Robinson said. “It feels great.”
Nik Stauskas had 15 points, Caris LeVert added 14 and Jordan Morgan had 13 points and nine rebounds on a night the Wolverines needed everything they could muster to escape Purdue. Michigan extended its lead over cross-state rival Michigan State to one game and over third place Wisconsin to two.
Without Robinson’s blue-collar grit, it might not have happened.
Purdue fought off Michigan’s continual challenges in the second half, only allowing the Wolverines to tie the score twice – when Robinson made two free throws with 1:55 to go and when Stauskas made two more free throws with 55.7 seconds left – and never falling behind in regulation.
Even when coach John Beilein drew up a play for Stauskas, his top scorer, Purdue contested the shot and forced overtime.
Things changed after Purdue’s best rim protector, A.J. Hammons, fouled out with 1:55 left in regulation.
Michigan wasted no time in exploiting the Boilermakers’ suddenly vulnerable middle in overtime, taking its first lead on a dunk by Stauskas on the opening possession. Morgan followed that with a layup, Robinson knocked down a jumper and when Morgan scored on another dunk with 2:29 left, Michigan led 73-70.
But the Boilermakers rallied, retaking a 76-75 lead when Ronnie Johnson made two free throws with 31.4 seconds to go. After Stauskas missed a layup on the next possession, Stephens wound up with the rebound and drew a foul that had Robinson’s father’s fans back on their feet.
Until Robinson delivered the stunning final blow.
“That’s a great play, and when you have that pass, you have to go get it,” he said. “He (the defender) overran it, I took one dribble and was at the basket.”