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Posts Tagged ‘Boilermakers’

#8 Michigan 28 – Purdue 10: O’Korn, U-M defense turn halftime deficit into second half rout

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

(Patrick Barron)

Michigan was a trendy pick to be upset by upstart Purdue on Saturday, but the Wolverines turned a sloppy first half into a second half route to stay 4-0 this season.

Wilton Speight was knocked out of the game on Michigan’s third possession of the game and John O’Korn came in and led the Wolverines on a 13-play, 84-yard touchdown drive to get the scoring started. On the drive, he completed an 11-yard pass to tight end Sean McKeon on 3rd-and-9 and also a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Gentry on 3rd-and-4.

Final Stats
Michigan  Purdue
Score 28 10
Record 4-0 2-2
Total Yards 423 189
Net Rushing Yards 139 30
Net Passing Yards 284 159
First Downs 24 9
Turnovers 2 1
Penalties-Yards 7-57 10-82
Punts-Yards 7-284 11-439
Time of Possession 38:59 21:01
Third Down Conversions 6-of-15 0-of-12
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 5-40 4-28
Field Goals 0-for-0 1-for-1
PATs 4-for-4 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 1-of-1
Red Zone TDs-Chances 3-of-3 1-of-1
Full Box Score

But the lead wouldn’t last for long as Purdue also switched quarterbacks — albeit by choice — and Elijah Sindelar led the Boilermakers right down the field for a game-tying touchdown. The drive was classic Jeff Brohm, using a series of throwback passes to gain 16 yards, 13 yards, 36 yards, and 10 yards for the touchdown.

O’Korn threw an interception on Michigan’s next possession but the Michigan defense held Purdue to just a field goal and the Boilers took a 10-7 halftime lead.

The second half was all Michigan.

It took a couple drives for the Michigan offense to get going, but once it did it didn’t look back, scoring touchdowns on three straight drives that covered 86 yards on 11 plays, 65 yards on nine plays, and 76 yards on five plays.

The Michigan defense was even more impressive, limiting Purdue to just 10 total yards in the second half. Purdue had just one second-half possession that didn’t result in a three-and-out, and it was just five plays long before the Boilers punted. They went three plays for one yard, three plays for three yards, three plays for negative-three yards, three plays for five yards, five plays for three yards, and one play for six yards.

For the game, Michigan’s defense held a Purdue offense that had been averaging 459.7 yards per game to just 189 total yards and 3.8 yards per play — the lowest total the Wolverines have allowed this season.

Purdue quarterback led the Big Ten in passing last season and entered the game tops with a 76.1 completion percentage, but he went just 5-of-13 for 32 yards. Sindelar fared slightly better, going 7-of-16 for 103 yards and a touchdown, but had just a 26.5 quarterback rating.

On the other hand, O’Korn went 18-of-26 for 270 yards, one touchdown, and one interception for an 84.9 quarterback rating. It was the first 250-plus passing game on the road for a Michigan quarterback since Jake Rudock did so at Penn State in 2015.

Chris Evans led Michigan in rushing with 14 carries for 97 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Ty Isaac managed just 20 yards and a score on 10 carries. McKeon led the way in receiving with five receptions for 82 yards, while Gentry caught three for 48 and a score. Ten different Wolverines caught a pass.

Chase Winovich earned national defensive player of the week honors with a six tackle (all solo), four tackle for loss, three sack performance. Devin Bush added six tackles, one tackle for loss, and a sack.

Michigan gets a bye week before hosting Michigan State (2-1) on Oct. 7.

Game Ball – Offense

John O’Korn (18-of-26 for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 5 rushes for 12 yards)
It took four weeks but the Michigan quarterback is the offensive player of the week for the first time. But instead of starter Wilton Speight, it’s O’Korn, who took over when Speight was injured on Michigan’s third possession. O’Korn came in and immediately led the Wolverines on a touchdown drive. Although he threw an interception on the next possession, he steadied and led Michigan on three straight touchdown drives in the second half. Is it enough to earn O’Korn the starting job two weeks from now? Who knows, assuming Speight is healthy. But it was an inspiring performance by a guy who has waited his turn.

Week 1 – Quinn Nordin (4-of-6 field goals, 2-of-3 from 50-plus)
Week 2 — Ty Isaac (20 carries for 133 yards, 6.7 yards per carry)
Week 3 — Donovan Peoples-Jones (2 receptions for 52 yards, 2 punt returns for 104 yards and 1 touchdown)

Game Ball – Defense

Chase Winovich (6 tackles — all solo — 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks)
Winovich gets the nod for the second straight week after terrorizing Purdue’s backfield with four tackles for loss and three sacks. His performance was good enough to earn Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors. Through four weeks, he ranks third nationally with six sacks and Michigan as a team leads the nation with 18.

Week 1 – Devin Bush (7 tackles, 5 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Week 2 – Tyree Kinnel (9 tackles, 8 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception return for touchdown)
Week 3 – Chase Winovich (9 tackles – 3 solo – 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry)

Four Bold Predictions Results

 Michigan’s offense shows some new looks, gets the tight ends more involved, and Wilton Speight tops 300 yards passing 
– It wasn’t Speight who had the big game passing, but the passing game went about how I expected. Tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry were the top two receivers, combining for 12 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, and John O’Korn came close to 300 yards, finishing with 270.

 The offense also converts all of its red zone attempts 
– Michigan’s offense entered the game just 1-of-10 on red zone touchdown conversions but converted all three chances on Saturday. It did so with a 12-yard touchdown pass from O’Korn to Gentry on 3rd-and-4 in the first quarter, a 10-yard Chris Evans touchdown run in the third quarter, and a 1-yard Ty Isaac touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth.

 Donovan Peoples-Jones scores two touchdowns — one on offense and, yes, another punt return 
– The true freshman who returned a punt for a touchdown against Air Force had a quiet day against Purdue, catching just one pass for eight yards and returning one punt for minus-one yard. Even though Purdue punted 11 times, Peoples-Jones was forced to fair catch most of them. He seemed to take a conservative approach, often calling for the fair catch even though he had room, so he was likely directed to do so in order to avoid a costly mistake in a close game.

 The defense gives up two long pass plays, but holds Purdue’s offense to less than 250 total yards 
– This also went pretty much as expected. Michigan’s defense struggled early in the game with Purdue’s misdirection plays and throwbacks, which resulted in Purdue’s only touchdown. On that drive, the Boilermakers completed passes of 16, 13, 36, and 10 yards. But Don Brown made adjustments at halftime and held the Boilers to just 10 total yards in the second half and 189 total yards — the fewest in their last 35 games.

Season Bold Prediction Results
= 5
 = 4
 = 3

#8 Michigan at Purdue game preview

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

(Kaitlyn Cole)

Previously this week: First Look: Purdue, Tailgate Tuesday: Fried pork tenderloin sammy with fire roasted green chile jam and savory corn casserole, The Numbers Game: U-M offense lagging behind 2016 big play pace but defense allowing fewer

With three games under their belt, the talk surrounding Michigan’s fourth game of the season is sounding much like it was entering the first. Prior to the offseason, most national so-called experts thought the Wolverines would lose to Florida because they lost too many starters to the NFL and they couldn’t match the SEC speed. All Michigan did was win 33-17 and hold the Gators to just 192 total yards and 11 on the ground.

As the Wolverines head into Big Ten play at Purdue tomorrow, they find themselves on the wrong end of the trendy upset pick in Week 4. It seems nearly every neutral observer is picking Purdue.

Quick Facts
Ross-Ade Stadium – 4p.m. EST – FOX
Purdue Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (1st season)
Coaching Record: 32-11 (2-1 at Purdue)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Brian Brohm (1st season)
Tony Levine (1st season)
Co-Defensive Coordinators: Nick Holt (1st season)
Anthony Poindexter (1st season)
Last Season: 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 44 – Purdue 13 (2012)
All-Time Series: Michigan 44-14
Record in West Lafayette: Michigan 16-9
Jim Harbaugh vs Purdue First meeting
Last Michigan win: 2012 (44-13)
Last Purdue win: 2009 (38-36)
Current Streak: Michigan 3
Purdue schedule to date
Opponent Result
#16 Louisville L 28-35
Ohio W 44-21
at Missouri W 35-3

I mean, if you’re looking for an upset to pick it’s not hard to see why many outside observers would take the Boilermakers. Despite winning all three games by double digits, Michigan’s offense has had trouble converting red zone trips into touchdowns (1-of-10). And despite winning just three games last season and only three Big Ten Conference games combined in the last four years, Purdue has looked much better under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm.

Brohm replaced Darrell Hazell after spending the past three seasons at Western Kentucky and leading the Hilltoppers to two bowl games, two Conference USA East Division titles, and a 30-10 record. He’s a former quarterback at Louisville where he passed for 5,451 yards and 38 touchdowns while going 15-10 from 1991-93.

After bouncing around the NFL and playing in just eight career games, he started seven games in 2001 for the Orlando Rage of the XFL before starting his coaching career in the Arena Football League. He worked his way up from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator at Louisville, then quarterbacks coach stints at Florida Atlantic and Illinois, offensive coordinator at UAB and Western Kentucky before taking the reigns at WKU in 2014.

While he has quickly transformed a Purdue program that has been a Big Ten laughingstock the past decade, one of his players made his job a bit tougher this weekend.

Purdue receiver Gregory Phillips issued some bulletin board material on Thursday by saying, “It’s going to be a surprise when people see us beat Michigan. I wish we played Ohio State, too, because nobody can stop us except ourselves. If we don’t beat Purdue and turn over the ball, we win every game.”

The last statement could be true for most teams. If you don’t beat yourself and turn the ball over, you’ll generally have a good chance of winning. But his assertion that the Boilermakers will beat Michigan and would beat Ohio State too won’t sit well with Wolverines players and coaches.

Phillips also must have a short memory as his team already has one loss this season. Purdue opened the season with a 35-28 loss to 16th-ranked Louisville, though they did perform much better than anyone expected, holding a 28-25 lead in the fourth quarter before surrendering 10 points in the final nine minutes. The Boilers won their next two games, 44-21 over Ohio University and 35-3 at Missouri.

So does Purdue have what it takes to pull off the upset in West Lafayette tomorrow? Or will Michigan stay perfect on the season and put the doubters to rest? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

Purdue offense

Through the first three games of the season, Purdue’s offense ranks 45th nationally in total offense (459.7 yards per game), 43rd in scoring (35.7 points per game), 63rd in rushing (173.0 yards per game), and 35th in passing (286.7 yards per game). While that doesn’t sound like a world-beater by any means, it’s impressive when you consider that last season Purdue ranked 80th, 101st, 125th, and 21st in those categories, respectively.

Brohm brought in his younger brother, Brian Brohm, to run the offense. He followed in his brother’s footsteps as a quarterback at Louisville, though he did so with greater success, throwing for 10,775 yards and 71 touchdowns while going 25-9. He was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2006 and led the Cardinals to their first BCS victory in 2007.  He spent a couple seasons as an NFL backup, then a couple in the UFL and three more in the CFL before starting his coaching career with his brother at Western Kentucky last season.

Although the Brohms inherited a team that hasn’t seen much success, they did inherit a good situation at quarterback to work with. Junior David Blough led the Big Ten with 279.3 passing yards per game in 2016, although he also led the conference with 21 interceptions and ranked last in pass efficiency. The talent is certainly there and having two former quarterbacks to tutor him can only help clean up the mistakes. In the first three games of 2017, Blough ranks just ninth in the Big Ten with 199.0 passing yards per game, but he leads the conference with a completion percentage of 76.1. He has completed 51-of-67 passes for 592 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. Blough split time in the season opener with redshirt sophomore Elijah Sindelar, who had a very 2017 Wilton Speight-like performance, completing 15-of-31 passes for 118 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick.

Blough’s favorite receiver is redshirt freshman Jackson Anthrop, who has caught 17 passes for 157 yards and four touchdown. He leads all Big Ten receivers in touchdowns so far. Only Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor have more (five each). Anthrop caught seven passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the opener against Louisville. Phillips is a senior who hasn’t played a major role the past three seasons, but ranks second on the team with 13 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown so far this year. Senior Anthony Mahoungou is the other receiver with at least 100 yards. He has nine receptions for 119 yards and a score.

Junior tight end Cole Herdeman has just seven catches, but he’s made the most of them, leading the team with 200 yards and leads Big Ten pass catchers with 28.6 yards per catch (with a minimum of seven receptions). Fellow tight end, redshirt sophomore Brycen Hopkins, has also caught nine passes for 141 yards and ranks second on the team with two touchdowns. Brohm loves to use his tight ends — his tight end at WKU caught 38 passes for 563 yards last season — so these two will be ones to watch.

Redshirt sophomore running back Tario Fuller ranks seventh in the Big Ten in rushing with an average of 87 yards per game. He rushed for 142 yards on 8.9 yards per carry against Ohio’s 64th-ranked rush defense and 90 yards on 4.7 yards per carry against Missouri’s 91st-ranked rush defense. But Louisville’s 43rd-ranked rush defense limited him to just 29 yards on eight carries. Fuller is the only other Boilermaker back with at least 100 yards rushing. Sophomore Brian Lankford-Johnson is second on the team with 76 yards on 4.4 yards per carry.

Purdue defense

While the offense is significantly improved from last season, the defense still has a ways to go. Under co-defensive coordinators Nick Holt and Anthony Poindexter, Purdue’s defense ranks 68th in total defense (374.3 yards per game), 41st in scoring (19.7 points per game), 53rd against the run (129.7 yards per game), and 83rd against the pass (244.7 yards per game).

They allowed Louisville’s offense to rack up 524 total yards, 378 of which came through the air. Reigning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 65 percent of his passes for 378 yards and also rushed 21 times for 107 yards, accounting for a Denard Robinson-like 93 percent of Louisville’s offense. The Boilermakers also let Ohio accumulate 396 total yards, 223 of which came through the air, and 4.6 yards per carry on the ground, but the stiffened against Missouri, holding the Tigers to just 203 total yards, 70 on the ground, and forcing three turnovers.

Most of Purdue’s front seven is back from last year and they added Western Kentucky graduate transfer will linebacker T.J. McCollum, who ranks third on the team with 19 tackles so far this season. He brought 25 career starts, 197 tackles, and 15.5 tackles for loss with him to West Lafayette. Senior Ja’Whaun Bentley is back as the starting middle linebacker. He brings 25 career starts, 175 tackles, and 18 tackles into the season and leads the team with 24 tackles and two forced fumbles through three games. Redshirt sophomore Markus Bailey is the team’s leading returning tackler with 97 a year ago in addition to four interceptions. He has recorded 15 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery so far this season.

Purdue lost 21.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks from last year’s defensive tackles, but moved senior Gelen Robinson in from end. Robinson, the younger brother of former Michigan basketball star Glenn Robinson III, led Purdue with five sacks last season, but has had a slow start to 2017 with just eight tackles so far. Seniors Austin Larkin and Danny Ezechukwu are the starting ends. Larkin had 2.5 sacks last year and has six tackles so far in 2017. Ezechukwu is a hybrid linebacker/end, has recorded Purdue’s lone sack on the season, leads the team with three tackles for loss, and has recovered two fumbles. The other tackles spot has been a mix of sophomore Lorenzo Neal and redshirt junior Keiwan Jones, neither of which have made much impact yet this season.

Whereas the front seven brings plenty of experience back from last season, the secondary has little to show in terms of proven experience. Seniors Josh Okonye and Da’Wan Hunte are the starting corners. Okonye is a graduate transfer from Wake Forest and brings experience — if not starting experience — to a secondary that lacks it. He leads the team with three passes defended so far this season. Hunte is the lone returning starter in the secondary after starting 10 games a year ago. Junior college transfer T.J. Jallow had 67 tackles and an interception in two years at East Mississippi Community College and is the starter at free safety, while redshirt junior Jacob Thieneman is the strong safety. He ranks second on the team with 20 tackles through the first three games.

Purdue special teams

Like Michigan’s special teams unit, Purdue’s is extremely young and inexperienced. In Michigan’s case, answers were found in Week 1 with kicker Quinn Nordin setting a school record with two 50-plus field goals. In Purdue’s case, it’s still a question as sophomore J.D. Dellinger and junior Spencer Evans have made just 3-of-6 attempts so far this season. Dellinger at least has experience after connecting on 10-of-14 as a freshman in 2016, but his long was just 42 yards. Unlike Michigan, Purdue has a punter with experience in junior Joe Schopper, who averaged 40.6 yards per punt a year ago (eighth in the Big Ten) and 40.2 yards in 2015. He’s showing improvement so far in the young 2017 season with 12 punts for a Big Ten best average of 48.8 yards.

In the return game, Purdue has left a lot to be desired so far this season, ranking 120th nationally in kick return average and 98th in punt return average. Freshman receiver KeyRon Catlett is averaging an abysmal 12.4 yards per kick return, while junior running back Markell Jones isn’t much better at 14.5. Anthrop is the main punt returner, but is averaging just 2.6 yards on five returns with a long of six. Purdue hasn’t done a great job of defending returns either, ranking 94th in kick return defense and 87th in punt return defense. Against Louisville, they allowed a 43-yard kick return and a 33-yard punt return, so Donovan Peoples-Jones could have some room to run.

Purdue running game vs Michigan rush defense
Purdue Michigan 

In three games against average to below average rush defenses, Purdue is averaging 173.0 rushing yards per game, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers racked up the majority of their rushing yards (263 on 6.0 yards per carry) against Ohio’s 64th-ranked rush defense. The Bobcats haven’t exactly faced solid running games this season, holding Hampton to just 47 yards on 1.5 yards per carry and Kansas to 108 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. Hampton is an FCS school that had a losing record last season and Kansas ranked 116th nationally in rushing last season. The Jayhawks managed just 73 rushing yards against Southeast Missouri State and 147 against Central Michigan in Week 2. Against Louisville, Purdue managed just 51 rushing yards on 2.4 yards per carry.

So Purdue’s Louisville performance is the most relevant to tomorrow’s game and Michigan’s defense doesn’t allow anyone to run on them. The Wolverines held Florida to just 11 rushing yards, Cincinnati to 68, and Air Force’s triple-option to just 168. Michigan has the clear advantage here.

Purdue pass game vs Michigan pass defense
Purdue Michigan

On the other side of the coin, Purdue has found success with their passing game this season, averaging 286.7 yards per game, which ranks third in the Big Ten. Their 10 passing touchdowns are tied with Penn State and Iowa for most in the conference. While they don’t have superior athletes to Michigan’s defense, they’ll succeed in chunks as a result of Brohm’s scheme which relies heavily on misdirection. They passed for 293 yards on Louisville (on 57 attempts) but had more success against Ohio with 295 yards on just 24 attempts. Against Missouri, it was similar with 272 yards on 34 attempts.

Michigan’s pass defense has been surprisingly solid this season, but has shown it is prone to mistakes, which makes sense with such a young and inexperienced secondary. Yes, they’ve scored three defensive touchdowns, but they’ve also given up some big plays, including a 64-yard touchdown pass by Air Force last week. That was simply a case of Tyree Kinnell getting sucked in by the Falcons’ run game, but it’s a sure bet that Brohm will game plan to attack Michigan’s young corners and force them to make mistakes. I’m putting this category as even based mostly on scheme.

Purdue rush defense vs Michigan running game
Purdue Michigan 

Michigan’s running game has been defined by big plays so far this season. It has had trouble gaining positive yards consistently, but then gains a big chunk of yards on one run. This is most evident in Ty Isaac, who ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 112 rushing yards per game, but has had 38.3 percent of his carries go for one yard or less. This is because he already has 10 runs of 10 or more yards and is averaging 24 yards apiece on those 10. He’s averaging an explosive run more than every five carries. Chris Evans’ one yard or less rate is even higher at 42.4 percent, but he only has four explosive runs with an average gain of 15 yards.

Purdue’s rush defense has given up 129.7 yards per game on the ground — 11th in the Big Ten — but it has done well at preventing big runs. They’ve allowed 13 runs of 10 or more yards through three games, but none has gone for more than 24. Louisville had a long of just 15 yards and Missouri’s long was just 13. Can Michigan’s running game move the ball consistently without big, explosive runs? That remains to be seen, but just because Purdue hasn’t allowed big runs doesn’t mean Michigan won’t break one, so I’m giving Michigan a very slight edge here.

Purdue pass defense vs Michigan passing game
Purdue Michigan 

This, to me, is one of the more intriguing battles to watch tomorrow. Wilton Speight has been erratic in the early season, throwing a pair of interceptions and often overthrowing open receivers. But — like in the running game — he has hit a fair amount of explosive plays. Six different Michigan receivers have caught a pass of at least 33 yards (three of them for touchdowns). Purdue’s defense has given up 11 explosive pass plays, which is tied with Ohio State and Rutgers for worst in the Big Ten. They’ve also only gotten to the quarterback once in three games, which is dead last nationally.

Receivers can get open, and Speight will have time to throw, but will he hit them? He’ll be without his top big-play receiver, Tarik Black, who is out indefinitely with a broken foot. Donovan Peoples-Jones has shown explosiveness and will need to step into Black’s role. I’m expecting an expanded role for Michigan’s tight ends this week. Zach Gentry has shown great potential with two explosive receptions for an average of 33 yards, and at 6-foot-7 with good speed, he’s a very tough matchup for a linebacker.

I’m giving Michigan a slight edge here, and if Speight shows the accuracy he had through the first two-thirds of last season, Michigan could have a far bigger edge in the passing game.

Purdue special teams vs Michigan special teams
Purdue Michigan 

One of the big questions coming into the season, special teams has been a major asset for Michigan through the first three games. Nordin leads the nation with 11 made field goals and Peoples-Jones has been dynamic in the punt return game, taking one 79 yards for a touchdown last week. Purdue is ripe for allowing a long return with a punter who is averaging nearly 49 yards per punt and a return defense that is allowing nine yards per return. Purdue has been woeful in its own return game and has made just 3-of-6 field goals, so Michigan has the clear edge in this category.

Purdue Michigan 

Jeff Brohm may not have the depth of proven success that Jim Harbaugh has, but he’s one of the most exciting young minds in the college football game right now. He comes from the Bobby Petrino school of coaching, which has been successful over the past couple of decades. Many are salivating over the matchup of Brohm’s offense against Don Brown’s defense and it will be fun to watch. Brohm’s offense will test the aggressiveness of Brown’s defense with play-action, screens, and misdirection, and could cause fits if the blitzes can’t get home in time. Michigan gets a slight edge here due to the track record of the entire coaching staff, but I won’t discount Brohm’s ability to challenge it.

Atmosphere and Intangibles
Purdue  Michigan 

Michigan’s young team handled the AT&T Stadium atmosphere just fine in Week 1, but it was still a very friendly crowd as a neutral site. Tomorrow is their first true road game, and while Ross-Ade Stadium isn’t one of the most feared in the Big Ten, it will be a homecoming crowd that is tasting success for the first time in a decade and thinks it has a real chance to knock off a top-10 team, so the late afternoon kickoff will make for a hyped up crowd and a classic Big Ten environment. How will the young Wolverines respond, especially if they fall behind early? Jumping out to a quick lead is important in this one, but for now, I’ll give Purdue the edge.

Edge Average: Michigan 6.2 – Purdue 3.8
Score Prediction: Michigan 41 – Purdue 20

Prior to the season, it was weird to consider Purdue a big game, but here we are with many picking the Boilermakers to pull off the upset. I think it’s a statement game for Michigan similar to how it was against Florida in Week 1. Many were writing them off and they came out and won convincingly. Maybe that Michigan State-like “chip on the shoulder” mentality is what this young team needs. Purdue will hang around through the first half, but Michigan is simply too athletic on defense to give Brohm’s offense a big day, and many of the offensive struggles the Wolverines have faced in the first three games will be a distant memory come Saturday night.

Four bold predictions:

Michigan’s offense shows some new looks, gets the tight ends more involved, and Wilton Speight tops 300 yards passing
The offense also converts all of its red zone attempts
 Donovan Peoples-Jones scores two touchdowns — one on offense and, yes, another punt return
 The defense gives up two long pass plays, but holds Purdue’s offense to less than 250 total yards

First Look: Purdue

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Michigan’s offense struggled for the second week in a row but defense and special teams helped the Wolverines to another double-digit victory. Michigan closed out the non-conference slate with five offensive touchdowns, three defensive touchdowns, one special teams touchdown, 11 field goals, and a safety. In other words, the special teams has scored 48 points, the offense has scored 30, and the defense 20.

This Saturday, Michigan faces a stern test in its Big Ten conference opener in West Lafayette. Raise your hand if you thought you’d hear that sentence prior to the season. No one? Ok, let’s take a look at how the team’s compare through the first fourth of the season.

Purdue & Michigan team stats comparison
Offense Defense
Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank
35.7 43rd 32.7 57th PPG 19.7 41st 14.7 24th
519 598 Rush Yds 389 247
173.0 63rd 199.3 41st Rush/Gm 129.7 53rd 82.3 9th
4.5 4.7 Rush Avg 4.1 2.3
860 608 Pass Yds 734 377
286.7 35th 202.7 84th Pass/Gm 244.7 83rd 125.7 12th
1,379 1,206 Total Off. 1,123 624
459.7 45th 402.0 72nd Total Off./Gm 374.3 68th 208.0 5th
13.5 120th 18.0 94th KR Avg 22.2 94th 15.4 14th
2.6 98th 14.8 18th PR Avg 9.0 87th 2.0 28th
34:35 12th 31:25 45th Avg TOP 25:25 28:35
40% 69th 34% 102nd 3rd Down% 35% 50th 24% 13th
8-40 98th 8-41 98th Sacks-Yds 1-7 129th 13-85 6rd
14 9 TDs 7 5
3-6 (50%) 11-13 (85%) FG-ATT 4-4 (100%) 3-6 (50%)
13-13 (100%) 1st 9-10 (90%) 39th Red Zone 9-11 (82%) 60th 3-4 (75%) 35th
10-13 (77%) 1-10 (10%)  RZ TD 5-11 (45%) 2-4 (50%)
29.4 66 32.0 49 S&P+ 29.9 75 12.8 2

Purdue is 2-1 under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm and has looked surprisingly un-Purdue-like so far. They hung with Louisville in the season opener, leading 28-25 in the fourth quarter before allowing 10 unanswered points in the final nine minutes. In Week 2, the Boilermakers topped Ohio University 44-21, and this past Saturday they traveled into SEC country and whooped Missouri, 35-3. Missouri is hardly the Mizzou of the past decade, but it’s becoming clear, neither is Purdue.

Brohm has already topped the 2013 season long win total, tied the 2015 total, and needs just one more win to tie 2014 and 2016’s. He has done so with a revamped offense that ranks in the top third nationally in most categories. Last season, in Darrel Hazel’s final year at the helm, Purdue ranked 11th in the Big Ten in scoring, but actually led the conference in passing. Three games into 2017, the Boilers are fourth in the conference in scoring, and sixth in total offense — ahead of Michigan in both categories.

Purdue is averaging 11 more points per game so far than they did a year ago, and that’s not simply because of schedule strength. Despite playing 16th-ranked Louisville this year — compared to a poorer non-conference slate last year — the Boilers have scored 18 more points than they did in the first three games of 2016.

They’ve done it with a strong passing game that is averaging 286.7 yards per game and ranks 35th nationally. They threw for 294 yards against Louisville, which is relatively the same as what the Cardinals allowed to 3rd-ranked Clemson this past Saturday. They followed that up with 295 yards against Ohio and 272 against Missouri. What’s more is that they’ve completed 65 percent of their passes with a 10-4 touchdown to interception ratio.

Purdue is less potent on the ground, ranking 63rd nationally with an average of 173 yards per game. That’s about 26 yards fewer than Michigan on a per game basis, though they’re averaging just 0.2 yards per carry fewer than the Wolverines. Louisville’s defense, which ranks 43rd nationally against the run, held the Boilers to just 51 rushing yards on 21 carries in the opener, so there’s precedent for Michigan’s defense.

Before we get carried away by the success of Purdue’s offense in the early season, let’s also point out that their two wins came against two poor defensive teams. Ohio ranks 69th in scoring defense, 64th against the run, 70th against the pass, and 65th in total defense. Missouri is even worse at 112th in scoring defense, 91st against the run, 98th against the pass, and 102nd in total defense. Louisville is worse yet, ranking 115th in scoring defense, 43rd against the run, 122nd against the pass, and 104th in total. Granted, the Cardinals have played Clemson, who may very well wind up in the College Football Playoff once again this season.

Defensively, Purdue isn’t quite as stout as their offense, ranking 41st in scoring (19.7 points per game), 53rd against the run (129.7 yards per game), 83rd against the pass (244.7 yards per game), and 68th in total defense (374.3 yards per game).

Purdue’s defense let Lamar Jackson throw for 387 yards and two touchdowns and rush for another 107 yards in the opener, but held Missouri to just 203 total yards and 70 rushing yards on 2.4 yards per carry. They did, however, give up nearly 400 total yards to Ohio, letting the Bobcats rush for 4.6 yards per carry and pass for 223 yards. Purdue has struggled to get into the backfield with just one sack and eight tackles for loss through three games. By comparison, Michigan has 13 sacks and 27 tackles for loss so far.

Unlike the Air Force matchup, Michigan will face a more traditional offense this Saturday, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will be the best passing offense the Wolverines’ young defense has faced so far this season. Purdue hasn’t been great at protecting the quarterback — they’ve allowed eight sacks just like Michigan has — so expect Don Brown to dial up plenty of blitzes to keep quarterback David Blough out of rhythm.

If Michigan can survive its first road test of the season the Wolverines will head into the bye week at 4-0 with an extra week to prepare for a rivalry game against Michigan State and a pair of road games at Indiana and Penn State the weeks following.

Michigan hoops preview: #13 (4) Purdue

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Michigan vs #13 Purdue
Saturday, March 12 | Indianapolis, Ind.. | 12 p.m. ET | CBS
Line: Purdue -6.5
74.8 Points/gm 78.3
(875-1,865) 46.9 Field Goal % 47.3 (884-1,870)
(320-824) 38.8 3-pt FG % 37.3 (252-676)
(397-536) 74.1 Free Throw % 73.9 (485-656)
12.0 FT Made/gm 15.2
32.4 Reb/gm 41.2
15.0 Assists/gm 17.8
9.8 Turnovers/gm 12.2
67.2 Points/gm 64.7
(815-1,841) 44.3 Field Goal % 39.1 (746-1,908)
(236-683) 34.6 3-pt FG % 31.4 (196-624)
32.8 Opp. Reb/gm 30.1
5.5 Steals/gm 4.3
2.2 Blocks/gm 4.7
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (16.5), Zak Irvin (11.8) Points/gm A.J. Hammons (14.7), Vince Edwards (10.7)
Derick Walton (5.6), Caris LeVert (5.3) Reb/gm Caleb Swanigan (8.4), A.J. Hammons (7.8)

Michigan pulled off the upset it needed to give it a shot at an at-large bid come Sunday. But the work isn’t done yet. ESPN projects the Wolverines’ chances to be 50-50, but a win over Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday would likely be enough to push John Beilein’s squad into the Big Dance.

Michigan and Purdue split a pair of regular season meetings with each team winning on its home floor. Purdue won in West Lafayette, 87-70, on Jan. 7, while Michigan won 61-56 in Ann Arbor on Feb. 13.

In the first, Michigan stayed within striking distance until the 5:11 mark in the second half when Purdue scored 12 straight during a three minute Michigan scoring drought to pull away. In the second, Michigan held Purdue scoreless for the final 3:17, turning a 56-50 deficit at the time into a 61-56 win.

Big men A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan combined for 48 points and 20 rebounds in the two games, but the big difference was guard Raphael Davis and forward Vince Edwards, who scored a combined 27 points in the win but just nine in the loss on 2-of-14 shooting. Michigan will need to limit those two again on Saturday if it wants to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game.

Michigan 61 – Purdue 56: Wolverines honor ChadTough with key win

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

UM vs Purdue(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

After getting blown out at home two straight times within the last two weeks, Michigan needed an answer today as they welcomed another ranked opponent, Purdue, to the Crisler Center. It never looked or felt like that answer would come, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Wolverines had indeed finished on top, 61-56, thanks to an 11-0 run to end the game.

Neither team was able to find any sort of offensive rhythm this afternoon, and both teams shot worse than 40 percent from the floor, but Michigan looked like a team dead-set on defending their home floor after being embarrassed twice.

The Wolverines also looked like a team fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives; this win certainly bolsters their resume and gives them a second top-tier conference win. Paired with no bad losses and a couple other solid wins, Michigan looks the part of a safe bet to be dancing come March.

Perhaps the Maize and Blue looked like a group excited to have their veteran star back on the court too. Caris LeVert, of course, is that long lost star who made his return to the floor after missing 11 straight conference games with a mysterious left foot or ankle injury.

Regardless of the motivations behind the victory, Michigan fought tough in a crucial matchup that turned into a bizarre battle.

Purdue’s game revolves around the play of big men A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan, who are all skilled around the rim, shot blocking threats, and good rebounders. In addition to senior guard Raphael Davis, the big trio is the reason Purdue is one of the best defensive teams in the country, limiting the opposition to just 41.4 percent shooting from two-point range and a meager 30.9 percent from distance. They are also the reason the Boilermakers had outgained every single opponent in rebounding this year.

Four Factors
Michigan Purdue
41 eFG% 45
28 OReb% 20
10 TO% 15
40 FTR 26

Michigan, on the other hand, is all about guard play and offense. While their defensive rebounding numbers are pretty solid, the Wolverines are certainly not known to clean up the glass with any consistency, and in fact point guard Derrick Walton is actually their best defensive rebounder. They also can struggle to score inside on occasion, which was evident both in Michigan’s earlier loss at Purdue and in today’s win. And because of John Beilein’s offensive system, Michigan almost always has a size disadvantage at the four position, with 6-foot-6 junior Zak Irvin getting most of their minutes there.

Yet somehow, Michigan today managed to both outscore Purdue in the paint (24-22, 66.7%-45.8% on shots in the paint) and outrebound them overall (39-35). And while I’m of the belief that straight up rebounding margin doesn’t mean much, that is certainly an impressive stat, bolstered by the fact that the difference in rebounding today was with the Wolverines grabbing four more of the offensive variety.

It’s not every day you see a Beilein squad out-physical a high quality team for a win – especially one with such inside prowess as Purdue – but today was not every day either.

In another strange occurrence, Zak Irvin was the only Michigan player to crack double digits, and he couldn’t have done it in a crazier way. The Indiana native was ice cold in the first half, having scored just six (2-of-5 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 2-of-3 FT) of his game-high 22 points in the opening 20 minutes before catching fire in the second half with 16 points on 2-of-6 shooting inside the arc and 4-of-6 from long range.

Walton, coming off a career night in a victory at Minnesota earlier this week, could not get a shot to fall until finally ending a 0-of-9 streak with 2:06 to play on a beautiful and-1 finish. He did, however, make his free throws to seal the deal and grabbed a pair of crucial rebounds on Purdue’s final two misses.

You want more strange? How about Duncan Robinson, Michigan’s leading three-point shooter, attempting only one three on the afternoon, and missing that one, but scoring four points inside the arc? And, to make things interesting, he only played 21 minutes because of foul trouble.

Don’t worry, there’s more. LeVert, who was Michigan’s leader in many statistical categories before falling prey to injury and losing so many games, played 11 minutes, all in the first half, and had five more rebounds than he had points – of which he had none on only one shot attempt.

The strange continues on and on: Kameron Chatman and D.J. Wilson, usually seen riding the pine, saw six minutes of combined action and scored two points apiece, but were chosen to lead the team in The Victors following the win in the locker room.

And, oh yeah – did I mention that Michigan won a game making 36.4 percent of their shots and only five of 20 threes? And that the Wolverines pulled it out despite only leading for about 6:30 of playing time, with most of that coming shortly after the tip? How about that Michigan trailed by 10 points roughly halfway into the first half and looked primed for another home beatdown before clawing back?

It was bizarre in many ways, and I never thought Michigan would come out on top until the very end. But the Wolverines deserve plenty of credit. They never seemed to be in the game, but they were almost always within 4-6 points despite their epic shooting woes. There were plenty of times that they could have seen their shot not fall and proceed to wilt away because it wasn’t their day.

So you could look at this game and cry that it was a fluke.

But you could also look at it and see some toughness, some grit, some fight. You could see a team that can win in more than one way.

I’ll choose the latter.

Quick Hitters

• John Beilein said after the game that he didn’t expect LeVert to be ready to play before yesterday’s practice, but LeVert had a good practice where he was able to go full-court for a while and “got gassed” pretty quickly. Following that practice, LeVert told his coach that he wanted to give it a go. Before letting that happen, Beilein wanted to make sure it was the right decision and checked back with him a few times. He also insisted that LeVert participate in regular warmups to see how his ankle/foot held up.

Because of the late decision, Beilein mentioned that there was not much offense drawn up for LeVert, and they were aiming to give him 10-15 minutes of playing time to loosen him up and help him get back in the flow of things. He did not specify whether LeVert sitting for the entire second half was planned, but Beilein also did not seem worried about it at all and said he would have been available in an emergency situation, and seemed to indicate that he will be on track to give it a go again at Ohio State on Tuesday. LeVert was not available to the media following the game, but there were no indications that he aggravated his injury or did not feel well enough to go play in the second half.

• After Derrick Walton missed his first three open looks, Beilein said he gave Walton motivation or confidence by telling him to “make the shots, damn it”. It did not necessarily work, as Walton missed plenty more open shots along the way, but his layup and free throws down the stretch with critical.

• Mark Donnal had another serviceable game, with eight points on 2-of-6 shooting and 4-of-4 free throws. He also dunked for the second straight game, which I believe are his only two dunks in conference play despite seeing drastically increased playing time and a much larger role in the offense.

• I also thought Ricky Doyle had another pretty solid game with four points on 2-of-2 shooting in 14 minutes, but his free throws continue to disappoint. He missed his only two attempts from the line today to bring his average to 60.5 percent on the season.

• Speaking of free throws, you’ll never guess who the only Wolverine to have attempted at least 15 free throws and have a worse percentage than Doyle is. Well, you probably will because if you are reading this you’ve probably seen most of Michigan’s games…but the answer is Zak Irvin, who is inexplicably shooting a woeful 60.4% at the charity stripe. In one of the stranger things I saw today (and it was a strange day indeed – see above), I looked up Irvin’s career numbers at the free throw line after he missed his first attempt today – a front-end of a 1-and-1 – badly and saw a statistical oddity: Irvin’s numbers at the line have gotten worse year-over-year since his freshman season. As a pure shooter in his first year, Irvin made 71.4% of his free throws. As a sophomore, the number dropped slightly to a still-respectable 68.9 percent. Now in his junior season, the mark has plummeted by a whopping 8.5 percent. It’s rare to see a pure shooter have such poor shooting numbers, and even rarer to see someone’s free throw percentage drop two consecutive years.

• A couple won a $500 jewelry gift card during a timeout contest…and then got engaged immediately after at center court. I have never seen a ring purchased so quickly in my life.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
22 points (8-of-19 2pt, 4-of-8 3pt, 2-of-3 FT), five rebounds (one offensive), one assist in 35 minutes

**Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman**
9 points (2-of-4 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt, 0-of-0 FT), four rebounds (three offensive), two assists, three steals, one turnover in 36 minutes

*Mark Donnal*
8 points (2-of-6 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt, 4-of-4 FT), one rebound (one offensive), one turnover in 20 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 26
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 13
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 8
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Mark Donnal – 2
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 2-6 0-1 4-4 1 0 1 4 8 0 1 0 0 20
10 Derrick Walton* 1-10 0-6 4-5 0 7 7 4 6 1 2 0 2 36
21 Zak Irvin* 8-19 4-8 2-3 1 4 5 1 22 1 0 0 0 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 2-4 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 3 4 2 0 0 0 21
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-6 1-1 2-3 3 1 4 1 9 2 1 0 3 36
03 Kameron Chatman 0-2 0-2 2-2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 4
05 D.J. Wilson 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 2
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
23 Caris LeVert 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 5 5 0 0 1 1 0 0 11
24 Aubrey Dawkins 1-4 0-1 2-2 1 3 4 1 4 0 1 0 0 17
32 Ricky Doyle 2-2 0-0 0-2 1 2 3 3 4 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 20-55 5-20 16-22 11 28 39 15 61 7 6 1 5 200
Purdue 21-53 6-12 8-14 7 28 35 18 56 8 9 3 2
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan hoops preview: #18 Purdue

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Michigan vs Purdue
Saturday, Feb. 13 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Line: Purdue -1.5
77.0 Points/gm 78.4
(681-1,406) 48.4 Field Goal % 46.1 (689-1,493)
(262-641) 40.9 3-pt FG % 35.4 (196-554)
(300-408) 73.5 Free Throw % 74.7 (387-518)
12.0 FT Made/gm 15.5
32.0 Reb/gm 42.5
15.6 Assists/gm 17.8
9.8 Turnovers/gm 12.6
66.4 Points/gm 63.7
(610-1,395) 43.7 Field Goal % 38.2 (573-1,501)
(179-522) 34.3 3-pt FG % 31.1 (146-469)
32.3 Opp. Reb/gm 31.1
5.8 Steals/gm 4.8
2.3 Blocks/gm 5.2
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Derrick Walton (12.3) Points/gm A.J. Hammons (14.7), Vince Edwards (10.4)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Caleb Swanigan (8.8), A.J. Hammons (8.2)

Michigan stopped the bleeding with a 82-74 win at Minnesota on Wednesday night, but it was far from convincing. The Wolverines blew a 17-point lead and had to hang on to avoid handing Minnesota its first win in nearly two months. That would have assuredly placed Michigan on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble, but as for now the Wolverines are still likely in barring a meltdown in the final six games. A win over 18th-ranked Purdue this afternoon would go a long way toward helping that cause.

Purdue won the season’s first meeting in West Lafayette, 87-70, despite a 25-point performance from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Three Zak Irvin free throws pulled Michigan within six with 5:20 remaining, but Purdue went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.

Four Purdue players scored in double figures, led by center A.J. Hammons’ 17 points. The 7-foot-0, 250-pound senior leads the team with an average of 14.7 points and 2.7 blocked shots per game and ranks second with 8.2 rebounds. In his last four games he has averaged 21.3 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field. In the Boilermakers’ overtime win over Michigan State on Tuesday, Hammons nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks.

Sophomore forward Vince Edwards (6-foot-8, 225) is the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 10.4 points and third leading rebounder with 5.2 boards per game. He recorded 11 points and seven rebounds in the first meeting. However, Edwards has been in a slump the last two weeks, shooting just 25.9 percent from the field (7-of-27) and 16.7 percent from three-point range (2-of-12) while averaging just 7.7 points.

Freshman forward Caleb Swanigan (6-foot-9, 250) and sophomore center Isaac Haas (7-foot-2, 282) each scored just seven points in the Jan. 7 meeting, but add to Purdue’s significant size advantage. Swanigan averages 9.8 points and a Big Ten-leading 8.8 rebounds per game. Haas averages 10 points and four boards.

The backcourt is lead by senior guard Raphael Davis (6-foot-6, 217) and junior guard Kendall Stephens (6-foot-7, 205). Davis scored 16 in the first meeting and is the team’s best three-point shooter, averaging 40.6 percent. He made 6-of-8 three-point attempts on his way to 24 points against Michigan State on Tuesday. Stephens missed four games for personal reasons, but returned against Michigan State and played just three minutes. His absence has yielded increased minutes for sophomore guard P.J. Thompson (5-foot-10, 188), who scored eight points in the first meeting, and senior guard Johnny Hill (6-foot-3, 187), who scored 10.

Michigan and Purdue are tied for fourth in the Big Ten at 8-4, but the Boilers are a bad matchup for Michigan. They rank second in the Big Ten with 42.5 rebounds per game, while Michigan ranks last with 32. And Purdue’s defense — second-best field goal percentage defense in the conference — will undoubtedly force Michigan into one of the extended scoring droughts that have become all too common this season. Perhaps Michigan can harness the power of the sold out home crowd that will be honoring and raising awareness for the ChadTough Foundation. But after last week’s gaffes against Indiana and Michigan State I wouldn’t count on it.

#20 Purdue 87 – Michigan 70

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

MAAR vs Purdue(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

Tonight started with bad news for the visiting Michigan Wolverines when Caris LeVert was deemed unable to play for the second straight game.

Unfortunately, the news never got much better, as the senior-less Wolverines dropped their first Big Ten road game this season by an 87-70 mark to Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana. And while the final score is a bit deceiving, given that the Maize and Blue never trailed by more than 11 points before the 4:13 mark of the second half, and cut the deficit to as little as five points thrice in the second half, it never fully felt like they had much of a chance in a matchup against the stifling Boilermaker different.

One of the few bright spots for Michigan would prove to be sophomore Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who ducked, drove, shot, and weaved his way to an impressive and career best 25-point showing. But the majority of his teammates never got it going from the floor versus the statistically best defensive team in the country when it comes to opponents’ field goal percentage, and Purdue’s size and timely shooting were too much to overcome for the short-handed visitors.

A.J. Hammons, the behemoth star senior Boilermaker, was a terror all night on both ends of the floor. Michigan players tried time and again to find their way into the paint, but they either quickly thought better of it and turned around, put up an altered prayer of a shot, or had it swatted right back in their faces. Offensively, Hammons was able to use his wide frame to get and maintain great post position, helping him to make six of his nine two-point attempts from close range while also putting a cherry on top of his performance with a three from the top of the key (putting him at a perfect 4-of-4 from deep on the season). When Michigan double- or triple-teamed him, he remained calm and found open shooters on the perimeter. Hammons final line – 17 points, five rebounds, four blocks, and three assists – looks unspectacular, but showcases his efficiency and supremely improved all-around game.

Senior Raphael Davis also joined the party for Purdue with 16 points on nine shots, six assists, five rebounds, and a block of his own while locking down Duncan Robinson, Zak Irvin, and Derrick Walton intermittently throughout the evening. Davis dished out a game-high six assists as well to help his squad record dimes on a mind-blowing 86.7 percent of their made field goals (26-of-30).

The loss is certainly not unexpected for the Maize and Blue, but it is an opportunity unseized after starting conference play with two convincing wins (albeit against lesser opponents) and having a fighter’s chance for most of tonight. At the same time, this will likely go down as one of their toughest games all year, and with LeVert watching from the bench, it was going to require a mammoth effort and a pristine shooting night – and at 37.7 percent from the field for John Beilein’s vaunted offense, it was anything but that.

Michigan entered the night as the best effective field goal percentage (calculated by (FGM + 0.5 * 3PM) / FGA to account for the added value of triples) offense in the country, but struggled to penetrate or shoot over the strong Purdue defense. Rahk emerged as one of the few brave enough to drive into Hammons and fellow seven-footer Isaac Haas, and was the only one to make more than half of his field goal attempts (10-of-16 total), while the only two others to reach double figures – Derrick Walton Jr. and Duncan Robinson – needed nine and eight shots to score 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Mark Donnal, coming off two breakout showings to kick off conference play, managed seven points, but did so by making his two triple tries and one free throw while going 0-of-4 from two-point range. He also grabbed three offensive rebounds and five total to help the Wolverines mitigate Purdue’s advantage on the glass, for what it was worth.

Zak Irvin also managed only seven points on a miserable 2-of-10 shooting night (0-of-3 from deep) riddled with poor shot selection and led the team with both four turnovers and three assists.

Luckily for Michigan, tonight’s loss was of the house money variety. Purdue’s size and defensive prowess were bound to give a more finesse Wolverine team problems and only the least knowledgeable or most demanding of fans can be too disappointed in the outcome. Beilein will likely watch the tape once, glean any small bits of positive information out of it (perhaps a bit more isolation play for Rahk), and then chalk it up to a brutally difficult matchup.

But some quality wins will be needed in the not-so-distant future if Michigan is to be watching comfortably on Selection Sunday. There will be more chances on that front – the Wolverines welcome Maryland to Ann Arbor next Tuesday before traveling to Iowa City the following Sunday – but it’s going to take a battle.

Enter Caris LeVert and a bit of a softer defensive opponent and those chances look a lot more obtainable.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman***
25 points (8-of-11 2pt, 2-of-5 3pt, 3-of-3 FT), two assists, four rebounds (one offensive), two steals, zero turnovers in 39 minutes

**Duncan Robinson**
10 points (1-of-3 2pt, 2-of-5 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), five rebounds, one assist, one steal, zero turnovers in 30 minutes

*Derrick Walton Jr.*
12 points (1-of-6 2pt, 2-of-3 3pt, 4-of-6 FT), six rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one turnover in 33 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Duncan Robinson – 12
Derrick Walton – 8
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 2
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 2-6 2-2 1-2 3 2 5 1 7 0 1 0 1 13
10 Derrick Walton* 3-9 2-3 4-6 1 5 6 3 12 1 1 0 0 33
21 Zak Irvin* 2-10 0-3 3-3 1 1 2 1 7 3 4 0 1 38
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-8 2-5 2-2 0 5 5 3 10 1 0 0 1 30
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 10-16 2-5 3-3 1 3 4 4 25 2 0 0 2 39
05 D.J. Wilson 1-5 1-5 0-0 0 0 0 3 3 2 0 1 1 15
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 8
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-5 2-4 0-0 1 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 1 12
32 Ricky Doyle 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 8
Totals 23-61 11-27 13-16 9 19 28 21 70 10 8 2 7 200
Purdue 30-54 9-18 18-21 6 30 36 13 87 26 9 7 5 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #20 Purdue

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Michigan vs #20 Purdue
Thursday, Jan. 7 | West Lafayette, Ind. | 7 p.m. EST | ESPNU
79.3 Points/gm 78.5
(434-852) 50.9 Field Goal % 46.3 (405-875)
(163-381) 42.8 3-pt FG % 35.2 (125-355)
(158-221) 71.5 Free Throw % 74.2 (242-326)
10.9 FT Made/gm 16.1
33.4 Reb/gm 43.7
16.9 Assists/gm 18.0
10.0 Turnovers/gm 13.0
60.9 Points/gm 59.1
(330-819) 40.3 Field Goal % 34.8 (323-928)
(102-296) 34.5 3-pt FG % 28.3 (79-279)
31.3 Opp. Reb/gm 32.5
6.0 Steals/gm 4.9
2.5 Blocks/gm 5.8
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (11.9) Points/gm A.J. Hammons (13.9), Isaac Haas (11.4)
Caris LeVert (5.4), Derrick Walton (5.1) Reb/gm Caleb Swanigan (8.9), A.J. Hammons (8.0)

The easiest stretch of Michigan’s season is over and the Big Ten season will offer its first real test Thursday in West Lafayette. John Beilein’s team bounced back from a tough 4-3 stretch with six straight wins, including conference victories over Illinois and Penn State.

But No. 20 Purdue offers a much greater challenge. Michigan has lost its three biggest games of the season up to this point, so Thursday will be another chance to pick up a quality win.

Here are some keys to tonight’s game.

1. Size matters

Unfortunately, Purdue is one of the toughest matchups in the country for Michigan on paper. The Boilermakers’ top three scorers average just under 7 feet tall, a height advantage the Wolverines can’t hope to match inside.

A.J. Hammons, Matt Painter’s senior leader, is 7 feet tall and averages 13.9 points and eight rebounds per game. Hammons shoots 63 percent from the floor and over 75 percent from the charity stripe. He’s also a force on defense, averaging 2.7 blocks.

Behind Hammons is 7-2 center Isaac Haas. Haas isn’t a typical second-option in the paint. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring – 11.4 points per game – and picks up 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Michigan’s tallest player is Mo Wagner, at 6-10, but the majority of Michigan’s front court production comes from 6-9 forwards Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle. That means the Wolverines will be giving up 3-5 inches of height and even more in strength.

2. Freshman force

On Thursday, Michigan will get its first look at the best freshman in the Big Ten this season: Caleb Swanigan. Despite being a true freshman, Swanigan plays more minutes than any other Purdue player and nearly averages a double-double.

Swanigan scores 10.2 points and rips down 8.9 rebounds per game, but he’s also the Boilermakers’ best passer inside the paint. With Hammons and Haas sharing time around the basket, Swanigan plays a huge role in dishing for easy buckets.

If Michigan can slow down Swanigan, it’ll go a long way toward slowing down an efficient Boilermaker offense. But that’s easier said than done, especially for an undersized Michigan frontcourt.

3. Steal the show

Purdue is the 20th-ranked team in the country, but there’s one glaring weakness for Painter’s team midway through the season.

In their 13 wins, the Boilermakers have taken solid care of the ball, averaging 13 turnovers per game. But in both of its losses, Purdue’s opponents had a significant advantage in turnovers.

Butler (6th) and Iowa (29th) are two of the country’s best teams in steals-to-turnover ratio. Butler, which picks up .78 steals per turnover committed, slaughtered Purdue in the turnover battle, 18-8. Eleven of those 18 Purdue turnovers were forced by Butler steals, the deciding factor in the 6-point Bulldog win.

On Saturday, when Iowa pulled off a 70-63 upset over Purdue, the Hawkeyes had 10 steals and forced 14 total turnovers, while committing only nine turnovers of their own.

Michigan steals only six passes per game, but if it can ramp up the defense Thursday night and win the turnover battle, it’ll have a chance to pick up a big win.

Thursday’s game is a tough matchup for Michigan, especially if top scorer Caris LeVert isn’t available to return from his leg injury. Without LeVert’s 17.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists, it’ll be extremely difficult for Michigan to overcome Purdue’s size advantage.

Second half shutdown: Purdue 64 – Michigan 51

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Michigan vs Purdue(John Underwood,

After opening Big Ten play with a come from behind overtime win over Illinois on Tuesday, Michigan hit the road for a matchup with Purdue on Saturday afternoon. But this time they gave up a second half lead and fell 64-51.

Derrick Walton Jr started the scoring on Michigan’s first possession, but former Michigan target Vince Edwards answered right away for the Boilermakers. Ricky Doyle hit a jumper from the free throw line, but Purdue scored five straight to take a 7-4 lead. A Doyle layup brought Michigan within one, but the Wolverines went scoreless for the next four minutes until Caris LeVert made a pair of free throws. Purdue was unable to take advantage, and when Michigan got back on track, the Wolverines began to pull away.

Four Factors
Michigan Purdue
40.4 eFG% 48.9
10.8 OReb% 37.9
17.4 TO% 22.2
42.6 FTR 63.0

Walton hit a three to put Michigan ahead 15-12, and after an A.J. Hammons layup and a LeVert breakaway dunk, Zak Irvin hit a three. After a Purdue turnover, Irvin was fouled and sank both free throws. Purdue closed to within four, but Spike Albrecht hit back-to-back threes to give Michigan a 10-point lead. Purdue responded with five straight, but with time running out in the first half, Albrecht hit another one, this time over the seven-footer Hammons to give Michigan a 33-25 halftime lead.

Purdue scored the first points of the second half on an Edwards layup and Irvin countered with a jumper of his own. But then Michigan’s offense disappeared. The Wolverines were held without a field goal for the next 12:34, getting only four points during that span on free throws from Albrecht and Walton. By the time LeVert broke the field goal drought with 6:37 to play, Michigan was down just 45-41, but Purdue scored the next nine straight to pull away. Michigan’s only other field goals the rest of the way were a three by Max Bielfeldt to pull within 57-48 with 1:46 to play and an Albrecht three in the closing seconds.

Michigan finished the game shooting just 31.9 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown. But it was the second half that doomed the Wolverines. They made just 4-of-22 overall and 2-of-9 three-pointers in the second half, scoring just 18 points compared to Purdue’s 39. Michigan was also out-rebounded 44-22 and dominated in the paint by a margin of 32-6.

Albrecht was the only Michigan player in double figures, tying a career-high 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting (4-of-5 from three-point). Walton and Irvin each scored eight, while Doyle and LeVert chipped in six apiece. LeVert led the team with five rebounds and three assists.

Purdue got 16 points from Edwards, 13 from Jon Octeus, and a double-double from Hammons, who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. As a team, Purdue shot 45.7 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three-point range.

Michigan visits Penn State (12-3, 0-2) on Tuesday. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network at 7pm. Penn State lost to Rutgers 50-46 on Saturday evening.

Final Game Stats
03 Kameron Chatman* 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 7
32 Ricky Doyle* 3-3 0-0 0-2 0 2 2 1 6 0 1 1 1 20
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 2-9 1-4 3-3 1 2 3 2 8 2 2 0 1 26
21 Zak Irvin* 2-12 1-4 3-4 1 3 4 1 8 1 2 0 1 37
23 Caris LeVert* 2-8 0-1 2-3 0 5 5 2 6 3 2 0 1 38
02 Spike Albrecht 4-7 4-5 5-6 0 2 2 2 17 2 0 0 1 29
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
24 Aubrey Dawkins 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 2 0 0 1 0 0 18
34 Mark Donnal 0-2 0-1 0-2 2 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 5
44 Max Bielfeldt 2-4 2-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 6 1 2 1 1 15
Totals 15-47 8-20 13-20 4 18 22 20 51 9 11 2 6 200
Purdue 21-46 3-13 17-29 11 33 44 18 62 12 14 3 7 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Purdue

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Michigan (8-5, 1-0) vs Purdue (9-5, 1-0)
Saturday, Jan. 3 | West Lafayette, Ind. | 2:15 p.m. EST | Big Ten Network
68.1 Points/gm 75.9
(308-723) 42.6 Field Goal % 46.3 (370-800)
(112-313) 35.8 3-pt FG % 34.6 (85-246)
(157-219) 71.7 Free Throw % 69.8 (238-341)
12.1 FT Made/gm 17.0
32.6 Reb/gm 37.5
13.5 Assists/gm 16.6
9.7 Turnovers/gm 13.2
62.5 Points/gm 65.4
(304-689) 44.1 Field Goal % 41.2 (318-772)
(92-252) 36.5 3-pt FG % 38.5 (94-244)
33.2 Opp. Reb/gm 31.5
6.5 Steals/gm 5.9
1.8 Blocks/gm 5.9
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (15.2), Zak Irvin (15.1) Points/gm Kendall Stephens (11.2), Isaac Haas (11.1)
Caris LeVert (5.2), Derrick Walton Jr (4.4) Reb/gm Vince Edwards (5.9), A.J. Hammons (5.6)


Michigan kicked off conference play with an overtime victory over Illinois on Tuesday, fighting through the same type of second half adversity that they couldn’t overcome in losses during the non conference portion of the schedule. Now, Michigan looks to continue that momentum as they hit the road for the first time in Big Ten play this season. Purdue awaits with a 9-5 record. Let’s take a look at the Boilers.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Kendall Stephens (G) 24.1 11.2 37.6 43.5 81.3 2.7 1.8 1.4 0.5 0.7
Isaac Haas (C) 17.8 11.1 62.0 00.0 54.7 5.1 0.7 1.8 0.9 0.1
Vince Edwards (F) 26.2 10.2 55.7 40.0 80.8 5.9 2.3 1.4 0.5 0.3
Raphael Davis (G) 25.1 9.9 51.7 14.3 79.3 3.0 2.5 1.5 0.1 1.0
Jon Octeus (G) 24.6 7.6 50.0 46.7 75.7 4.3 2.6 1.3 0.3 0.9
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
A.J. Hammons (C) 20.1 10.0 45.8 00.0 62.5 5.6 1.1 2.1 2.8 0.4
Bryson Scott (G) 13.2 5.7 39.0 14.3 77.1 1.9 1.8 1.2 0.2 1.1
Dakota Mathias (G) 15.3 3.8 32.7 35.1 85.7 1.6 1.3 0.5 0.0 0.2
P.J. Thompson (G) 18.5 3.1 34.1 26.7 75.0 1.3 1.6 0.6 0.1 0.8
Basil Smotherman (F) 12.1 2.3 41.2 11.1 42.9 1.8 1.1 0.4 0.3 0.4

Purdue uses a large rotation with no one averaging more than 26 minutes a game and four players scoring in double figures. Sophomore guard Kendall Stephens (6’6″, 197) is the leading scorer, averaging 11.2 points per game, and while he’s shooting just 37.6 percent from the field, he has made 37-of-85 three-point attempts (43.5 percent). He has made at least four three-pointers in four of 13 games this season. He scored a season-high 24 points against IUPUI thanks to a 6-of-9 performance from downtown, and also hit 6-of-7 against Arkansas State. Against Gardner-Webb two weeks ago, Stephens was held scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting, missing all four of his three-point attempts, but he followed it up with a 19-point performance against Minnesota on Wednesday in which he hit 4-of-8.

Center Isaac Haas is right behind Stephens in points per game with 11.1. The 7’2″, 297-pound freshman from Alabama has started the last six games and has actually seen his production drop during that time. Coming off the bench in the first eight games, Haas averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. As a starter, those numbers have dropped to 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.

Freshman forward Vince Edwards (6’7″, 220) averages the most minutes on the team (26.2) and leads the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. He’s averaging 10.2 points per game, but his scoring has seen its ups and downs. He scored 26 points in the second game of the season and 25 points in the overtime win over BYU, but has been held to single digits in 10 of 14 games. He hasn’t reached double figures since scoring 16 against N.C. State on Dec. 2.

The starting lineup is rounded out with guards Raphael Davis and Jon Octeus. Davis, a 6’5″, 217-pound junior, averages 9.9 points, three rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, while Octeus, a 6’4″, 175-pound senior, averages 7.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Davis has a season high of 22 points against Missouri and is shooting 51.7 percent from the field, but is not a three-point threat, having made just 2-of-14 attempts. Octeus, on the other hand, isn’t as much of a scorer with a season high of 13 points, but has the ability to hit the three, having made 7-of-15 attempts. After making just one of his first six on the season, Octeus has hit 6-of-9 in the past five games.

A.J. Hammons started the first eight games of the season at center before being replaced by Haas. The 7’0″, 261-pound junior is averaging 10 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and has scored in double figures in nine of the past 10 games.

Freshman guard P.J. Thompson (5’10”, 188) plays the most minutes off the bench among members of the backcourt (18.5), but averages just 3.1 points per game. Fellow guards Bryson Scott (6’1″, 206) and Dakota Mathias (6’4″, 197) average a combined 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game off the bench, while sophomore forward Basil Smotherman (6’6″, 222) is the only remaining player averaging double digit minutes. He provides just 2.3 points and 1.8 boards per game.

As a team, Purdue has the Big Ten’s fifth-best scoring offense (75.9 points per game) and third-worst scoring defense (65.4 ppt). The Boilers rank seventh in field goal percentage (46.3), ninth in three-point percentage (34.6) and third in rebounding margin (plus-six), while the defense ranks 12th in field goal percentage (41.2) and last in three-point percentage (38.5).

The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 Samford W 80-40
Nov. 16 IUPUI W 77-57
Nov. 20 Grambling State W 82-30
Nov. 24 Kansas State* L 79-88
Nov. 25 Missouri* W 82-61
Nov. 26 BYU* W 87-85 OT
Dec. 2 N.C. State^ W 66-61
Dec. 6 North Florida L 70-73
Dec. 8 IPFW W 63-43
Dec. 10 Arkansas State W 87-46
Dec. 13 at Vanderbilt L 71-81
Dec. 20 #21 Notre Dame# L 63-94
Dec. 22 Gardner-Webb L 84-89
Dec. 31 Minnesota W 72-68
Jan. 3 Michigan
Jan. 7 at #4 Wisconsin
Jan. 12 #12 Maryland
Jan. 17 at Penn State
Jan. 21 at Illinois
Jan. 24 Iowa
Jan. 28 Indiana
Jan. 31 at Northwestern
Feb. 4 #20 Ohio State
Feb. 7 at Minnesota
Feb. 12 at Rutgers
Feb. 15 Nebraska
Feb. 19 at Indiana
Feb. 26 Rutgers
Mar. 1 at #20 Ohio State
Mar. 4 at Michigan State
Mar. 7 Illinois
*Maui Invitational, ^ACC-Big Ten Challenge, #Neutral court game

Purdue and Michigan haven’t played any similar opponents this season. The Boilers opened the season with three cupcakes before falling to Kansas State in the opening game of the Maui Invitational. They responded with wins over Missouri and BYU and then topped N.C. State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But just like Michigan lost to NJIT, Purdue let North Florida come to West Lafayette and knock them off. Then, after wins over IPFW and Arkansas State, Purdue dropped three straight before picking up a four point win over Minnesota on Wednesday.

The Series

Purdue holds a 84-66 lead in the all-time series, but Michigan has won the last four. Purdue leads 51-24 all-time at Mackey Arena, but Michigan has won its last three trips to West Lafayette. Last season, Michigan won in overtime 77-76 when Glenn Robinson III made a last-second layup, and beat the Boilers in Ann Arbor 75-66.


• Purdue leads the Big Ten with 5.9 blocked shots per game and ranks fourth with 16.6 assists per game.

• In three games as a starter, Ricky Doyle is shooting 12-of-16 (75 percent) from the field

• Spike Albrecht grabbed a career-high six rebounds in Michigan’s win over Illinois on Tuesday