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Posts Tagged ‘Boilermakers’

Michigan hoops preview: #13 (4) Purdue

Saturday, March 12th, 2016


UM-Purdue
Michigan vs #13 Purdue
Saturday, March 12 | Indianapolis, Ind.. | 12 p.m. ET | CBS
Line: Purdue -6.5
Offense
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
Defense
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
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
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
200
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan hoops preview: #18 Purdue

Saturday, February 13th, 2016


UM-Purdue
Michigan vs Purdue
Saturday, Feb. 13 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Line: Purdue -1.5
Offense
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
Defense
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
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
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


UM-Purdue
Michigan vs #20 Purdue
Thursday, Jan. 7 | West Lafayette, Ind. | 7 p.m. EST | ESPNU
Offense
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
Defense
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, PurdueSports.com)

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
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
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


UM-Purdue
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
Offense
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
Defense
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.

Notes

• 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

A win is a win: Michigan 77 – Purdue 76, OT

Thursday, February 27th, 2014


UM celebration vs Purdue 2-26-14(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Basketball, like most sports, is a game that can have wild outcomes from time-to-time. When trying to throw a nine-inch ball into an 18-inch rim from 20-some feet away, that is to be expected. Still, some guys are better at shooting that ball, and teams with those players generally prevail – but not always.

Michigan is a team this season that is incredibly skilled on offense, capable of dominating any team in the nation when the shots are falling. But when shots aren’t falling, weird things happen.

On Wednesday night, the Wolverines simply couldn’t throw that orange ball into the orange rim no matter how open their looks were. Purdue, their opponent, on the other hand, seemingly couldn’t miss – despite being a poor shooting team on average.

Coming into last evening’s clash at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Michigan led the Big Ten with a 47.9 percent shooting mark from the floor, while Purdue lagged a ways behind at 42.7 percent. The teams’ three-point shooting numbers – 39.4 percent for Michigan and 33.9 percent for Purdue – also heavily favored the visitors.

Jordan Morgan came up huge, especially in overtime, finishing with 13 points and nine boards (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Jordan Morgan came up huge, especially in overtime, finishing with 13 points and nine boards (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

For the first half, however, things couldn’t have been more different. The Boilermakers, playing for pride and a potential NIT bid in a lost season, connected on their first three shots and ran out to a 19-point lead over Michigan just over 12 minutes into the first half on their way to making 52 percent of their field goals (13-of-25) and 45.5 percent of their threes (5-of-11). At the 7:43 mark of that first half, Purdue was more than tripling – TRIPLING – Michigan’s score.

The Wolverines, on the other hand, touting a roster with five regulars shooting better than 39 percent from deep, made just eight of their 27 shot attempts in the first half (29.6 percent) and a meager 2-of-10 threes (20 percent).

This wasn’t supposed to happen. After ousting Michigan State in a thrilling come-from-behind victory three days ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan was all but crowned conference champion with four games remaining over bottom-half Big Ten teams and a one-game lead over those Spartans. At some point, perhaps the Maize and Blue bought into the hype, or maybe Purdue was fed up with being walked all over.

Whatever it was, Purdue was cruising to victory. Near the end of a dominant first half, the Boilermakers took a brief stumble and allowed Michigan to cut the lead to single digits, but a couple of Wolverine mistakes and Boiler buckets later and the halftime lead was a still very large 13 points.

Then, inevitably, Michigan started clawing back into the game as we’ve seen so many times this year. Sure, the Wolverines’ poor opening play in some games has left all of us fans frustrated, but there is no denying the fight in this team.

As has been the case all season, Michigan’s deficit started shrinking – 11, nine, seven, then just four points with a whopping 12:44 left to play. Certainly, Purdue’s nominal lead would continue disappearing, all the way to zero, before the boys in Blue ran away with it.

But that didn’t happen either. In fact, Purdue never trailed Michigan for 40 minutes. Despite a continuous battle and even a couple of ties, Michigan never got over the hump and looked like they would fall victim to the trap game, giving Michigan State a glimmer of hope in the Big Ten title race.

Again, Michigan fought, earning a chance to win it with the final shot at the end of regulation. And despite Nik Stauskas’s clanger off the rim to end the second half, the Wolverines had to feel good about sending this game to overtime.

With A.J. Hammons out of the game on fouls and five more minutes of game time, Michigan had a golden opportunity to steal yet another road victory, and it looked like they would after grabbing their first lead of the night just 30 seconds into the extra period.

But Purdue wouldn’t go down easily either. Fueled by Ronnie and Terone Johnson and near-perfect free throw shooting, the Boilermakers proved resilient enough to grab the lead back with 31 seconds remaining, and seemed primed to close the game out when Kendall Stephens was sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity with 13 seconds left. After 17 straight made free throws for Purdue, two more didn’t seem like a big deal, but Stephens missed, giving Michigan one last chance.

Glenn Robinson III somehow managed to get this winning shot to fall (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Glenn Robinson III somehow managed to get this winning shot to fall at the buzzer (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Caris LeVert, who struggled shooting the ball (4-of-12 FG), raced up the court, danced around for a second, and then huddled up with the rest of his team when John Beilein called a timeout with 2.9 seconds on the clock.

This was it. Michigan faced a one-point deficit with less than three seconds to go. Make a basket, and the game is won. Miss, and well, maybe missing was never an option.

Out of the timeout, LeVert inbounded on the side out-of-bounds line and threw a high rainbow to the far corner to a leaping Glenn Robinson III, whose 12 second half points had kept Michigan alive. Robinson, one of the best athletes in the country, leapt up high over Raphael Davis, came down with the ball, gave a quick head fake, took one dribble toward the basket, and threw up a shot off glass – all with his dad, former Purdue All-Everything forward and first overall NBA selection Glenn Robinson, watching. The ball, seemingly moving in slow motion, hit off the backboard, bounced a couple times off the side and front of the rim, then gently trickled through that 18-inch rim. The buzzer sounded, and the game was over.

On a night when Michigan’s two leading scorers combined for 29 points on a miserable 9-of-30 mark from the field, the Wolverines somehow got it done.

There’s a certain resilience about this team that is both refreshing and encouraging, but there’s also a certain tendency of falling behind that seems concerning.

But a win is still a win, and now only three games separate these Wolverines from an outright Big Ten championship and an almost certain top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Glenn Robinson III said it best after the game: “It’s a great win for us. We competed hard and came out with the victory.”

At this point in the season, every win is great.

Three Stars:

***Terone Johnson***
22 points (7-of-14 FG, 4-of-8 3PT, 4-of-4 FT), four rebounds (one offensive), three assists, three turnovers in 41 minutes

**Glenn Robinson III**
17 points (7-of-11 FG, 0-of-1 3PT, 3-of-4 FT), eight rebounds (two offensive), three assists, one turnover in 39 minutes

*Ronnie Johnson*
21 points (9-of-15 FG, 1-of-3 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), seven assists, four rebounds, two steals, four turnovers in 41 minutes

Quick Hitters:


 Senior Terone Johnson continued to be a big pain for Michigan, going for his third career 20-point game against the Wolverines — something he has only accomplished seven other times in his career. But this time it was done through some terrific outside shooting while brother Ronnie did major damage in the paint. The guard duo combined to make an excellent 5-of-11 threes and all six of their free throws while leading five Boilermakers in double digits.

 Michigan’s ball movement was mostly effective tonight, and it shows with their outstanding 19 assists on 27 made buckets to just seven turnovers. Five Wolverines – LeVert, Stauskas, Spike Albrecht, Jordan Morgan, and Robinson III – recorded at least three assists a piece and only Stauskas and Derrick Walton, Jr. turned it over more than once. Still, Purdue managed to win the points off turnover battles, getting 13 to Michigan’s 11 points on 11 Purdue cough-ups.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 7-11 0-1 3-4 2 6 8 2 17 3 1 0 0 39
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 2-6 2-6 2-4 2 2 4 0 8 1 2 0 1 24
11 Nik Stauskas* 5-18 0-4 5-7 1 1 2 2 15 3 2 0 0 41
52 Jordan Morgan* 6-8 0-0 1-3 3 6 9 3 13 3 0 1 2 33
23 Caris LeVert* 4-12 2-5 4-4 3 4 7 1 14 4 1 0 1 41
02 Spike Albrecht 1-5 0-3 0-0 0 0 0 2 2 4 1 0 2 21
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 11
21 Zak Irvin 2-4 2-4 2-3 0 1 1 1 8 1 0 0 0 15
Totals 27-65 6-23 17-25 14 23 37 14 77 19 7 2 6 205
Purdue 26-63 7-24 17-18 14 25 39 17 76 15 11 4 3 205
Full Stats

Sam’s 3 thoughts: Purdue

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014


Michigan-Purdue header2

After a thrilling victory over Michigan State on Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines can smell an outright Big Ten championship. Win out, and the conference crown is theirs. Lose any of the four remaining games, however, and Michigan’s quest for glory could get very interesting. Tonight, Michigan has the chance to put one more game in the rear view mirror and inch ever closer to their regular season goal with a game at Purdue (7 p.m. on Big Ten Network).

For most teams, this game would be a classic trap, considering the matchup with a team that has already been felled with relative ease coming right on the heels of a monster rivalry win, but Michigan has seemed somewhat immune to the trap game meme under Beilein the past few years. Here are my three keys for the Wolverines to get the job done in West Lafayette.

Focus, Focus, Focus: It’s hard to argue against Michigan as one of the best two or three teams in the Big Ten this season. It’s also hard to argue against Purdue as one of the two or three worst teams in the Big Ten. If both teams play up to their abilities this evening, the Maize and Blue should record their third conference series sweep to date after taking two from Michigan State and Nebraska, but ifs are never certain.

The Wolverines need to approach this matchup just as they would a big rivalry game or a conference-deciding game, because, quite simply, it is. At this point in the season, Purdue is playing for pride, but sometimes that’s even harder to get past than a team still in it. No Boilermaker wants to see the team lie down and get run over by the stronger Michigan squad, and if Michigan gets complacent, it could be the other way around. A focused Michigan team, on the other hand, should get the job done.

A.J. Hammons scored 16 against Michigan in the first meeting (John Underwood)

A.J. Hammons scored 16 against Michigan in the first meeting (John Underwood)

Clog the Paint: Purdue is one of the few teams in the league that can’t put some sort of stretch lineup on the floor, and with only three respectable shooters, Michigan needs to recognize the scouting report and pack it in. The Boilers’ starting guards, Ronnie and Terone Johnson, both make slightly better than 36 percent of their threes on the season — a great improvement from last year — but they take fewer than a quarter of their shots from downtown.

Kendall Stephens, another guard who started Purdue’s last game over Nebraska, is the third who is a threat from deep at 38.6 percent on the season, but he is a one-dimensional shooter (81 percent of his attempts are from outside the arc) who should be easy to slow down if Michigan pays attention to defensive assignments. Beyond those three, no regular makes better than 32 percent of his threes, and as a team the Boilermakers connect on just fewer than 34 percent of their treys (ninth in the Big Ten). They also attempt the second-fewest in the league.

In addition to this ineptitude, Purdue’s biggest threat to Michigan has to be sophomore big man A.J. Hammons. The 7’0″, 251-pounder was the only Purdue player who seemed to frighten Michigan at all the first time around in the Wolverines’ 75-66 win in Ann Arbor. He scored 16 points on 7-o-f-14 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. While Hammons has had an up-and-down season, including three straight games with no more than eight points, seven rebounds, or seven shot attempts, he is capable of putting up big numbers like the 20 and 14 he had in a triple-overtime thriller over Minnesota or the 18 and 16 he put up against Ohio State in the conference opener.

Tonight, look for Michigan to throw a couple different defensive looks at Purdue like they did so effectively in the win over Michigan State on Sunday to help slow the behemoth down low.

Move the Ball Intelligently: We’ve seen this Michigan team have turnover issues here and there and we’ve also seen some games in which the offense has devolved into a Caris LeVert dribbling academy. In the first showdown with Purdue, it was more of the former, as the Wolverines carelessly turned the ball over 16 times, allowing for the Boilermakers to score 12 points off cough-ups and keep the game within fighting distance.

Before the win on Sunday, Michigan had recorded at least nine turnovers in nine straight games, but the minuscule three giveaways against the Spartans is a very hopeful sign moving forward. If Michigan is careful with the rock tonight and gets everyone involved offensively, it should be a very long night for the home team and another victory for the road warriors.

Prediction: One of the many things to love about this year’s Michigan team is that each player seems to sincerely mean it when he tells you that every game matters. Most teams are visually more or less involved in certain games depending on the opponent, relative importance of the game, or previous results, but Michigan plays in a way that the last game’s result is sometimes hard to recall. Tonight, I expect much of the same, as the Wolverines take a victory home from West Lafayette for the third straight season by an 80-69 margin.

Derick’s 3 thoughts: Purdue

Thursday, January 30th, 2014


Michigan-Purdue header

Last Saturday, Michigan capped off an eight day stretch of wins over third-ranked Wisconsin on the road, 10th-ranked Iowa at home and third-ranked Michigan State on the road. It was quite possibly the best three-game regular season stretch in Michigan history.

Tonight, the Wolverines come back to earth a bit with a matchup against Purdue. It’s a classic trap game with Michigan coming down off the high of three straight big wins and looking ahead to another brutal stretch that starts next Saturday.

While Michigan is hoping to stay atop the Big Ten standings, Purdue is fighting for its NCAA Tournament life, needing a signature win tonight to add to its resume. The Boilermakers will have added confidence after watching both Penn State and Northwestern waltz into Columbus and Madison and pull off upsets last night. Here are my three thoughts for what it will take for Michigan to beat Purdue tonight.

1. Don’t fall for the Big Ten trap: The message was loud and clear for the rest of the Big Ten on Wednesday night: don’t sleep on any conference team at any venue. The last-place Penn State Nittany Lions shocked Ohio State in Columbus to drop the Buckeyes to poor 4-5 start in the Big Ten.

Shortly afterwards, Northwestern walked into the Kohl Center and manhandled the Wisconsin Badgers in the second half to pick up its fourth win of the conference season. In a year when road wins have been so difficult to come by in the Big Ten, two bottom-feeder teams upset ranked opponents back-to-back on the road and shook up the already-surprising Big Ten standings.

Michigan needs to look no further back than two seasons ago, when Purdue defeated the Wolverines in Crisler Arena on Senior Day to ruin the perfect season in Ann Arbor. John Beilein’s team got complacent in the friendly confines of its home arena and allowed the Boilermakers to steal a valuable conference win.

2. Drive to the rim: Before welcoming Wisconsin to West Lafayette last Saturday, Purdue had played seven straight single-digit games, hanging with teams like Ohio State and Minnesota and taking down Illinois on the road. The Badgers ended that streak by pounding Matt Painter’s team 72-58.

The formula for success: get to the free throw line. Wisconsin shot 33 times from the charity stripe Saturday to Purdue’s 13. Driving to the rim allowed Wisconsin to put the Boilermakers in foul trouble and control the pace of the game. Wisconsin’s 27 made free throws almost doubles the difference in the game, and Purdue didn’t help itself by shooting just 3-17 from beyond the arc.

Michigan’s guards should make scoring in the paint a focal point tonight. Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas have proven to be magicians finishing around the rim this season, and freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. had two enormous three-point plays against Michigan State. Purdue lacks the guard talent to slow down Michigan’s trio, and if the Wolverines decide to attack early, the Boilermaker guards will be on their heels all night.

3. Feed the beasts: There were all types of possible scenarios for Michigan when Mitch McGary announced he would be out indefinitely after having back surgery, but few thought it would actually make the team better. Thanks to the play of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, it undoubtedly has.

Morgan has always been one of the strongest post defenders in the conference throughout his Michigan career. He’s battled inside with the likes of Jared Sullinger, Meyers Leonard and Cody Zeller effectively while still helping the guards with effective ball-screen hedges out top. His issue has been helping on the offensive end, but lately he has been more of a contributor. After scoring a season-high 15 points at Nebraska, the redshirt senior has shot a combined 12-of-14 with 22 rebounds in the four games since.

Horford, on the other hand, has developed some nice touch around the rim and finishes nearly everything within 10 feet. Though his minutes have been limited by Morgan’s effectiveness lately, Horford has shot 11-for-13 with 21 rebounds and six blocks in his last five games.

Michigan may not have its preseason All-American center in late January, but the duo of Morgan and Horford is providing more than enough support on both ends of the court. Beilein’s offense doesn’t normally run through the post, but with the efficiency these two veterans have shown during the Big Ten season, Thursday may be a good time to give the big men a shot.

Prediction: While it’s hard to ever feel safe in the Big Ten, the Crisler Center has been extremely kind to Michigan during the ladder part of Beilein’s tenure as head coach. The Wolverines are 54-9 at home the past four seasons. Matt Painter always has his team ready to play, so Michigan will need to avoid a hangover from the three straight top-10 victories that propelled it back up to No. 10 in the nation. Michigan’s talented guards need to keep taking care of the ball and the post players will protect the rim on the defensive end, giving the Wolverines the edge 77-65.