My Two Cents: Williams' Night a Memory That Will Last Forever
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There will come a time, fifty or sixty years down the road, when Trevion Williams' grandkids will want to hear the story — for the umpteenth time — about the night their Pops went off for 36 and 20 against Michigan.
That's how it works when you make history.
Williams, the sophomore forward from Chicago, was quite literally unstoppable on Thursday night here at the Crisler Center. He used just about every post move he had, and they all kept working against the Michigan defenders, mostly 7-foot-1 Jon Teske. He made 16 of 28 shots from the floor, including a step-back 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring, just the third 3-pointer of his career. He also had 20 rebounds in Purdue's 84-78 double-overtime loss.
Both were career-highs, eclipsing the 18 points and 16 rebounds he had against Nebraska in December.
It was the first time a Purdue player had gone for at least 35 points and 20 rebounds since Bob Ford did it way back in 1971. It was the first time in nine years that ANYONE in college basketball had gone for 35 and 20 with zero turnovers,
It was that good of a night.
"He really made some tough shots, and they were contested. A lot of them were well-guarded, and he just willed it in with his skill,'' Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. "But at the end of the day, the 36 points, those were on me, they weren't on Jon Teske. He scored those on me.''
Howard and Michigan chose to not double-team Williams in the post, fearful that Purdue's 3-point shooters would get hot. So Purdue kept going to the well, and Williams kept delivering.
It was really huge in the first half, where Williams scored 16 of Purdue's 28 points. They were otherwise atrocious.
"We were lucky to only be down four points at halftime, because we weren't very good,'' Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We had 11 turnovers in the first half and our decision-making was really poor.''
It also didn't help that 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms left the game with 4 minutes to go in the first half with an apparent hip injury. He didn't return, which put even more pressure on Williams as the Boilermakers' only true big man.
Purdue kept going to Williams, and Michigan never adjusted. He kept the Boilermakers in it with 13 more points in the second half in a tight game where neither team led by more than six points during regulation.
"They played him one-on-one in the post, so we just kept trying to get the ball inside to him,'' Painter said. "I like his matchup against people when he can go one-on-one and attack that left shoulder.''
Painter loved that Williams dominated the way he did.
"Look, he's a really good player,'' he said. "And any time you have a guy who's talented, you expect a lot more from them. Trevion's a pretty good passer, so he likes having the ball in his hands. That's your expectations as a coach, that you expect big things from him. Guys, when they're young, they just need to learn how to be a pro, come in early, stay late. He did some really good things.''
The only bad thing was that Purdue couldn't come away with a victory on the road. It was a spirited effort, especially coming off that ugly 63-37 loss at Illinois on Sunday. It spoiled an incredible night by Williams.
Purdue is now 9-7 and on the ropes when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament now. It doesn't get any easier with No. 8 Michigan State coming to town for a Sunday game at Mackey Arena (Noon ET).
With Haarms' status in question, a lot is going to fall on Williams' shoulders. He answered the bell in a big way on Thursday night, and that's going to need to continue going forward.
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