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Michigan upsets No. 16 Purdue, keeps Tournament hopes alive

BY ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 26, 2009

As the Michigan men's basketball team and No. 16 Purdue waited for tipoff Thursday night at Crisler Arena, junior forward DeShawn Sims pointed to guards C.J. Lee and Stu Douglass. He let them know that he was planning on winning the tip against the taller and lengthier Purdue's JaJuan Johnson.

Said Alsalah / Daily
Michigan guard Manny Harris (3) dunks the ball in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan upset No. 16th Purdue 87-78. (SAID ALSALAH/Daily)

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Sims not only won the tip, but he went right after Johnson on the offensive end, scoring on a crafty reverse layup. The trend would continue all night during the Wolverines' 87-78 upset victory over Purdue last night. It tied the highest point total Purdue (10-5 Big Ten, 21-7 overall) has given up this season and the most points Michigan has scored since Dec. 20 against Oakland University.

Sparked by a clip from the film "Any Given Sunday" before the game, the win makes up for last Sunday's heartbreaking overtime loss at Iowa and puts Michigan (8-8, 18-11) back into serious consideration for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Michigan is now tied for seventh in the Big Ten with Minnesota. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin are tied for fourth.

Since it was the last regular season home game of the year, seniors Jevohn Shepherd, C.J. Lee and David Merritt were honored prior to the game. The trio received framed jerseys, and all three scored. Lee had six, Shepherd four and Merritt two.

The Wolverines went 17-of-21 in the second half on their way to scoring 50 points in the second frame. Johnson picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and returned to the game with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation. Sims went right after Johnson. Sims scored on a reverse layup and then a reverse dunk. The latter sparked a 7-0 run, which was capped off by a 3-pointer by Sims to extend Michigan's lead to 16. Sims was impressive in the paint, scoring on jump hooks, floaters, jump shots and slipping screens for easy layups. He ended the night with a career-high 29 points.

Sophomore forward Manny Harris was equally impressive. After being benched in overtime of Michigan's 70-60 to loss at Iowa on Sunday, Harris exploded with 27 points to become the sixth Michigan sophomore to surpass the 1,000-point scoring mark. It was the first time since Nov. 28 against Savannah State that the Sims and Harris both scored more than 20 points.

The Wolverines will return to action Sunday when they take on Wisconsin at Madison at 2 p.m.

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For more coverage, read the Daily's live blog from the game.