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Horton pours in 31 points in upset of Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- There will be no postseason play for
Michigan this year. Still, the Wolverines are doing all they can to
make sure this won't be a lost season.

Daniel Horton scored a career-high 31 points and LaVell
Blanchard added 20 as Michigan beat (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) Purdue 78-67 Wednesday night to take over first place in the Big Ten.

After losing their first six games for the first time in school
history, the Wolverines (16-9, 9-3) are closing in on their first
official conference title since 1986.

"That's something that hasn't been done in a long time in our
institution and we're a contender for it,'' Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said.

A regular-season title and Big Ten tournament championship are
about the only things the Wolverines have to look forward to.

The school banned the basketball program -- before the season
started -- from the NCAA Tournament and the NIT as part of a slew of
self-imposed sanctions stemming from the scandal with former
booster Ed Martin, who died last Friday on the same day that
Michigan had a hearing before the NCAA committee on infractions.

"Although we're not eligible and we understand the reasons why
and we support the decisions that were made by our school, we can
always deserve some things,'' Amaker said. "We're big on earning
and deserving.''

They entered the game in a three-way tie for first in the Big
Ten with Purdue (16-7, 8-4) and Wisconsin, which lost at Penn State
on Wednesday. The Wolverines can take another step toward the title
when they play at Wisconsin on Feb. 26.

The Wolverines never trailed and handed Purdue its first loss at
home this season in 14 games. The 1968-69 season, when they were
11-0, remains the only time the Boilermakers went undefeated at home, though they've lost one game 12 times.

At 3-3, Michigan is the only team at .500 in conference road
games.

"I think it was a very significant win for our team and our
program,'' Amaker said.

They can credit Horton. The freshman point guard scored 21
points in the first half as Michigan took a 42-29 lead and became the first team to lead Purdue at halftime at home this season.

"He certainly carried us,'' Amaker said. "Without his play,
we're not having a happy locker room right now.''

Horton was 8-for-22 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free
throw line. His previous high was 26 against Bowling Green.

"I just kept trying to go to the rack and get to the free throw
line,'' Horton said.

Michigan's lead was cut to 54-50 with 11 minutes to play. Then
Michigan sandwiched 3-pointers by Blanchard and Horton around a
bucket by Purdue's Willie Deane to make it 60-52.

Purdue would get as close as 62-57 but, playing a 2-3 zone,
again was burned from the outside, this time on another 3-pointer
by Blanchard. Michigan went 8-for-17 from beyond the arc, including
four by Blanchard.

"I thought Blanchard was phenomenal down the stretch for us in
keeping that cushion that we had,'' Amaker said.

Deane, who the Boilermakers with 22 points, scored to make it
71-63, though it was the final time Michigan's lead would be under
double digits.

Lester Abram added 13 points for Michigan, which was 18-of-19
from the free-throw line.

Kenny Lowe had 14 points for Purdue.

Purdue coach Gene Keady is worried the loss will hurt his team's
chance for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Boilermakers play
three of their final four games on the road, including at Michigan
in the season finale.

"Now we've got to go on the road and win against somebody we
shouldn't,'' he said. "The players don't understand that you don't
want to be on the bubble.''

At least, unlike Michigan, they still have a chance.