NEW YORK — Zavier Simpson was a catalyst on both ends of the floor, running Michigan’s efficient offense and leading its lock-down defense, and back-up big man Jon Teske scored 14 as the 15th-ranked Wolverines beat No. 8 Purdue 75-66 Sunday to repeat as Big Ten tournament champions.
Fifth-seeded Michigan (28-7) became the first team to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champs since Ohio State in 2010 and ’11.
Simpson finished with 10 points, five assists and five rebounds and Moe Wagner led Michigan with 17 points, despite playing only 17 minutes because of foul trouble — which plagued him all tournament.
That’s where Teske stepped up. The 7-foot-1 sophomore scored 12 points in the first half and picked up the slack guarding Purdue’s 7-2 center Isaac Haas.
Simpson and Teske put an exclamation point on Michigan’s four-day Madison Square Garden party with 6:02 left in the second half. The 6-foot Simpson drove and dished to Teske, who finished with a one-handed slam over Haas.
That made it 66-48 and brought chants of “Tes-key!” from the Michigan fans — who showed up in droves for the first Big Ten tournament played in New York.
Purdue (28-6) chipped away late with Michigan missing free throws run but it was way too late.
Haas led Purdue with 23 points, but Purdue’s top-two scorers, Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards, combined for 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting.
This Michigan team has been coach John Beilein’s best on the defensive side since he took over in Ann Arbor in 2007. It starts with Simpson, the sophomore point guard harassing opponents’ best ball-handlers. The Wolverines seemed content to let Haas have some room inside as long as they were able limit Purdue’s 3s.
Purdue entered the game shooting 42 percent from 3 and attempting 23 per game. The Boilermakers finished 4 for 17 from behind the arc.
On consecutive possessions early in the second half, the Wolverines forced turnovers by Purdue and turned them in transition 3s — one my Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and then by Simpson. That put Michigan up 11 with 15:06 left, prompted Boilermakers coach Matt Painter to call a timeout and had Wolverines fans screaming “Go Blue!”
Michigan, the team playing its fourth game in four days, showed no signs of wear. The Wolverines shot 50 percent and committed five turnovers.
Last season’s unlikely run to the tournament championship by Michigan was as an eighth seed and it started with a harrowing plane accident near Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team plane skidded off a run after takeoff was aborted. No one was hurt, but everyone was shaken up. Still, the team got to Washington and then ripped off four straight wins to grab an NCAA bid.
This one was less dramatic — though surely the Wolverines did not mind.
Michigan: The Wolverines will enter the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak.
Purdue: The Boilermakers beat Michigan in the regular season twice by a total of five points. Unable to complete a three-game sweep, they probably watched any chance of grabbing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament go away.
Both teams will wait a week to find out where they are headed for the NCAA Tournament, along with Michigan State and Ohio State out of the Big Ten. Penn State and Nebraska will cross fingers and hope.