Burke carries No. 7 Michigan past Purdue
MAR 06, 2013 8:22p ET
First, of course, would be to cut down the nets. But at the same time, they might as well lift Trey Burke's jersey into the Crisler Center rafters.
Not only because it will give the Wolverines two conference titles in his two seasons — two more than the Fab Five won — but also because of the way he has dragged this slumping team to the finish line.
He has scored at least 15 points in every Big Ten game, but that only tells a tiny part of the story. He had the game-clinching block in overtime against Ohio State. He had two steals in the final moments against Michigan State.
And on Wednesday, with his team struggling badly on the road yet again, Burke had a key offensive rebound with 56 seconds left and a key steal with 10 seconds to play in an 80-75 win over Purdue.
Oh, and he also scored 22 points in the second half, including seven in the final minute, as the Wolverines rallied from a double-digit deficit.
"T.B. is a pro — that's the only thing you can say about him," said Nik Stauskas, who added 17 points, many of them off Burke passes.
"Trey inspired us tonight," agreed coach John Beilein.
Burke didn't dominate the first 25 minutes of the game. He struggled against a Purdue defense designed strictly to stop him, with his teammates looking helpless again on the road — they came into the game with four straight losses away from Crisler.
"They were tough out there — they were doing everything they could to make me give up the ball on every ball screen," Burke said.
But there was a bigger problem than just Purdue's defense.
"At halftime, we knew we had to make some adjustments, because it seemed like they wanted it more than we did," Burke said. "Five minutes into the second half, they still seemed like they wanted it more than we did."
That's when Burke started to dominate — doing what Victor Oladipo had been unable to do for Indiana against Ohio State. With Tim Hardaway Jr. in foul trouble, Burke started getting the ball into the paint. That opened up things for Stauskas, but Burke was also able to hit pull-up jumpers over Purdue's post players.
"They've got seven-footers guarding the rim, so there are times you've got to be able to hit those middle-range jumpers," Beilein said. "There's no one who is better at middle-range jumpers than Trey."
Even Purdue coach Matt Painter acknowledged that his team was helpless against Burke's teardrops.
"When he's making speed-dribble, step-back, pull-up shots — you are just going to shake his hand," he said.
Now the Big Ten season comes down to Sunday at the Crisler Center. Burke won't only be carrying the hopes of Ann Arbor on his shoulders, but also those from his hometown of Columbus, and either East Lansing or Madison.
"It's wonderful," Beilein said. "This is exactly how this season should end."
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