Michigan was the best team in the Big Ten Conference at tournament time last year, and things aren’t changing.
Mo Wagner scored 14 of his 15 points after a dreadful first half and fifth-seeded Michigan moved within a game of its second straight Big Ten Tournament title with a 75-64 victory over top-seeded Michigan State on Saturday, ending the No. 2 ranked Spartans’ 13-game winning streak.
Senior swingman Duncan Robinson said this year feels like 2017 when the Wolverines won the tournament as the No. 8 seed, the lowest seed to win the event.
“I think coming down the stretch in that championship game and how it felt, I think all the guys want that again more than anything,” said Robinson, one of five players in double figures in the eighth straight win for No. 15 Michigan (27-7). “We are one step closer, but we still have to stay locked in on the task at hand.”
Michigan will play third-seeded Purdue (28-5) today as the five-day tournament ends at Madison Square Garden.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson also had 15 for the Wolverines, who were also the last team to beat Michigan State (29-4), when they did it on Jan. 13. Robinson added 13 points off the bench and Charles Matthews had 12.
Michigan was just too balanced and quick for Michigan State.
The difference was the second half. Wagner got going and the Wolverines lit up the Spartans’ defense, hitting 12 of 18 from the field and making 20 of 27 free throws in the final 20 minutes.
Michigan coach John Beilein had a great motivational speech for Wagner, who was 0-for-7 from the field in first 20 minutes.
“Hey, Mo, are you going to make a shot?, Beilein recalled saying. “Because right now you’re stinking the place up. Just make one shot.”
Wagner, who finished 4 of 14 from the field, laughed when it was mentioned.
“Coach and I have a really good relationship,” said Wagner, who stood in front of the Michigan fans after the game and repeated waived his arms to encourage the celebration. “He can say that. That’s fine. He told me to pick it up a little bit and make plays.”
- Purdue 78, Penn State 70—Carsen Edwards scored 27 points and No. 8 Purdue pulled away from Penn State in the second half to put the Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the second time in three seasons.
Third-seeded Purdue (28-5) faces No. 5 Michigan, which will try to repeat as tournament champs.
Purdue frustrated conference scoring leader Tony Carr, holding him to 4-of-18 shooting and 12 points. Shep Garner led the Nittany Lions (21-12) with 33 points.
The Boilermakers will be making their third appearance in the Big Ten championship since the tournament started in 1998. Their one championship came in 2009.
Against Penn State, Purdue used a 12-2 run the middle of the second half to build a 15-point lead.
Edwards led the way, spinning through the lane for a driving layup and making a 3 from up top that made the score 59-44 with 9:15 left.
Edwards made back-to-back 3s to make it 74-56 with 3:41 left and Purdue was on its way to play for a title. Edwards was 6 for 9 from 3 and Isaac Haas added 17 points and seven rebounds.
With Carr struggling, Penn State could not keep up. The sophomore faced an array of defenders, including Vincent Edwards, Nojel Eastern and P.J. Thompson. He picked up a third foul in the second half, a push off call that caused Penn State coach Pat Chambers to draw a technical.