ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It was a tale of two halves for Michigan and forward Zak Irvin.
Despite his first half struggles, Irvin seemingly caught fire in U-M's huge 61-56 victory over number 25 Purdue on Saturday. With Purdue not being able to put the Wolverines in the second half, U-M kept chipping away and clawed its way to a one-point lead late in the second half.
A mid-range floater from Irvin put the Wolverines ahead late and some late-game clutch free throws by U-M guard Derrick Walton sealed the deal. Irvin finished the game with 22 points which included some big three-pointers late down the stretch to keep the Wolverines in contention.
As U-M coach John Beilein said, it was a "gritty and not pretty" win.
"To have our team win a gritty and not pretty performance is big for our program," Beilein said. "I think we grew up a lot today as a team knowing that the game can be tough, you're going to have to be tougher. As they all mature right now, that's a big part of it."
In contrast to what happened last time U-M played Purdue, the Boilermakers big men were a problem as Purdue cruised easily to victory in West Lafayette. This time around, somehow and some way U-M was able to out-rebound Purdue 39-35. Players like A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan caused problems for the Wolverines last meeting.
However, this time around, U-M were able to limit both big men to 10 points and 14 points respectively.
"If you look at thing we outrebounded Purdue," Beilein said. "If you look at (the box score) that'll be the only time you see that stat. We got it done somehow, I think Chad Carr was batting the ball around to us as a little angel somewhere. We were getting the ball but we ended up getting enough done so that they didn't get too many second opportunities."
The Wolverines were able to walk away with a victory despite the shooting issues yet again. U-M shot 36 percent from the field and only making five three-pointers all game with Irvin accounting for four of them, it finished the game shooting 25 percent from beyond the arc.
"I think we had a win against Michigan State a couple of years ago without hitting a three-pointer," Beilein said. "So yeah, there's different ways to win. You have to take what the defense gives us. That's surprising because you can't get to the rim as well as you'd like to because that kid (Hammonds) is an elite shot blocker. It is good for our guys to do more than just that."
The Wolverines head to Columbus on Tuesday to face Ohio State at 7 p.m.