ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Senior Day, Michigan needed its senior floor general to make one last play.
With Purdue rallying from 21 down and cutting U-M’s lead to 73-67 with 2:14 remaining, the momentum was clearly trending towards the Boilermakers.
With U-M in desperate need of made shot, the Wolverines naturally had Derrick Walton Jr. possessing the ball on its next possession. The senior captain knew he had to make a play like he had been making all season for U-M. So he dribbled the out the possession with the shot clock winding down, he twisted and leaned into three-pointer as the shot clock sounded off – splash.
The rest, well, was history, as Michigan, led by Walton Jr.’s clutch 3-pointer, to go along with his 17 points and 11 rebounds, defeated No. 14 Purdue, 82-70, Saturday in the Crisler Center home finale.
“I silently thanked God, because there was no reason I should’ve made the shot,” Walton Jr said afterwards. “It was probably one of the worst possessions we had all game. You just kind of dribble the ball around for six seconds, but it was just one of those times. We had a lot going against us this season, I think it was one of those moments where it was like ‘OK, we finally got a good bounce of the ball.’”
Moments after the game, Walton Jr. addressed the U-M crowd, thanking them for their support. Although, he admitted to a group of reporters, that he had yet to realize the moment that he played his last Michigan home game.
“I still really haven’t thought about it,” Walton Jr. said. “It probably won’t hit me till my last practice till we go off for the (NCAA) Tournament. Like I said (to the crowd), I just thanked the guys who supported me and the loyal fans that we have, I’m just great for the opportunity I was given here, and I just want to make the most of it.”
Michigan plays at Northwestern this Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.