Zavier Simpson leads Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team in double-overtime, 84-78 home victory over Purdue
By MATT SCHOCH
ANN ARBOR — Juwan Howard knew he was getting a hard-nosed point guard when he took over as coach at his alma mater.
In Michigan’s senior point guard Zavier Simpson, he also saw some of himself.
Howard used astrology to explain his bond with Simpson, who scored 22 points and made big shots late to lift the 19th-ranked Wolverines to an 84-78 victory over Purdue in a double-overtime thriller on Thursday night.
“We both are Aquarius,” Howard said, adding that Simpson’s mom and Howard’s grandmother were both interested in astrology. “We both can be bull-headed, I will also add stubborn.
“We also both are tough-nosed competitors. But the beauty of it is that we both trust one another.”
Simpson did not shoot for more than 18 minutes to start the game but took charge on offense when it was needed.
To avoid a third straight Big Ten loss, the Wolverines (11-4, 2-2) overcame a monstrous effort from Purdue sophomore Trevion Williams, who had career highs with 36 points and 20 rebounds but missed a shot to win at the regulation buzzer.
Williams outplayed Michigan’s Jon Teske, making 16 of 28 field goals, while Howard refused to send a double-team to help his senior center.
“I just tried to get him off his feet, get him in the air, get him jumping a little bit,” Williams said. “Once I got a couple to fall, I started getting more comfortable and start making more moves.”
Teske scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and freshman Franz Wagner had 15 points for Michigan. David DeJulius made three free throws in the final minute and finished with 11 points.
But it was Simpson who came up big after a slow start, closing the scoring in regulation and the first overtime, finishing drives to the left with his right hand.
In the first overtime, Eric Hunter Jr. missed a contested jump shot for Purdue (9-7, 2-3), and Simpson’s desperation 3-pointer on the run also missed for Michigan at the buzzer.
Michigan left little to chance in the second overtime, scoring the first nine points of the session. Teske had a three-point play, followed by 3-pointers from Simpson and Wagner.