Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 12, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue continues its push to it first Big Ten tourney title since 2009. And it can thank A.J. Hammons.
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The big fella had 27 points and 11 boards, and when Michigan cut the Boilers? lead to six midway through the second half, he was the guy who reasserted Purdue?s dominance.
The Boilermakers will take on the winner of the No. 2 Michigan State-No. 3 Maryland game for the league title on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Michigan may have done enough work in Indy to earn an at-large NCAA seed, but they may have to do some sweating until Selection Sunday.
Top star: A.J. Hammons, Purdue. Hammons was a man among boys, tallying 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. The guy was unstoppable.
Top stat line: It has to be A.J. Hammons' epic 11-of-17 effort that also saw him pull down 11 rebounds and swat three shots in 31 minutes of action. He also had just one foul. The guy played like former Purdue 7-0 All-American Joe Barry Carroll.
Top stat: 44, Purdue?s points in the paint. Michigan big men Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle and Moritz Wagner had no answer for A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, along with beefy Caleb Swanigan. The dominance of the Boiler big men was a big reason why Purdue shot 52.7 percent.
Top dunk: Early in the second half, Caleb Swanigan lofted a nice alley-oop pass to A.J. Hammons, who promptly deposited it into the hoop for slam to give Purdue a 16-point lead. Hammons offered up a mega two-handed slam midway through the second half after Michigan had cut the Purdue lead to 10.
It was over when: After Michigan cut the deficit to 60-54 on Derrick Walton Jr.'s steal and old-fashioned three-point play with 7:35 left, A.J. Hammons scored the next five points to kill the Wolverines' momentum and put the Boilermakers back in control en route to the 17-point win.
- Purdue won its lone Big Ten tourney title in 2009, beating Ohio State in Indianapolis as a No. 3 seed.
- Purdue and Michigan played in the first Big Ten title game in 1998, with the Wolverines winning.
- Purdue made back-to-back semifinal appearances for the first time since 2009 and 2010.
- Matt Painter coached in his 400th career game on Saturday.
- Purdue and Michigan split two previous meetings this year, with each team winning on its home court.
- This was Michigan?s third game in three days.
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