Michigan scrapped and clawed its way through a grinding first half in West Lafayette, but eventually Purdue’s size and strength wore down the Wolverines.
Michigan held the Boilermakers to just 21 points in their first 26 possessions, but Matt Painter’s group went on to score 66 points in their final 41 offensive possessions of the game. That’s 1.61 points per trip over the final two-thirds of the game which allowed Purdue to pick up the comfortable 87-70 win.
Purdue posted a 92.8% effective field goal percentage in the second half, shooting 9-of-11 on two-point attempts and 7-of-10 on three-point attempts in the final frame. The Wolverines tinkered with the 1-3-1 zone, token zone pressure and a 2-3 zone, but just couldn’t find the answers defensively.
In a season that has already had a few disappointing defensive performances, this was Michigan’s worst. The Wolverines allowed 1.29 points per trip for the game despite holding Purdue to just a 24% offensive rebounding rate — a statistic boosted perhaps because there just weren’t many misses to grab.
Michigan’s offense just topped a point per possession at 1.04 points per trip, but it had to work for every single basket. About the only thing that really seemed to work for the Wolverine offense was to isolate Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and hope he could convert an incredible layup at the basket. He did more often than not, finishing with a career-high 25 points on 16 shots, but Michigan needed another element offensively with Caris LeVert on the sidelines.
The pick-and-roll offense going to the hoop was eliminated by Purdue’s defense plan. The Boilers left Hammons and Haas at home, effectively giving up the pick-and-pop three to Wilson or Donnal — who finished 3-of-7 from three — and Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton failed to create anything at the rim with the shot blocker waiting for them.
The Wolverines actually shot the ball well from three — making 11-of-27 long range efforts — but just couldn’t score inside. Michigan was 9-of-18 at the rim and just 3-of-16 when shooting mid-range jumpers. Michigan shot just 36% inside the arc for the game, and players other than Abdur-Rahkman made just 4-of-23 two-point attempts on the evening.
The three is vitally important to Michigan’s offense, but the Wolverines’ success depends on whether those easy baskets exist around the rim. It should come as no surprise that the Michigan has lost in its four worst two-point shooting performances this season
Michigan was outscored 42-18 in the paint, a statistic that won’t surprise many, but perhaps the most disappointing peripheral stat of the game was in the turnover department. I wrote in the preview that the Wolverines had to force turnovers to create some easy offense, but they managed to score just four points off of nine Boilermaker turnovers. While Michigan only gave the ball away seven times in the loss, Purdue made the Wolverines pay — scoring an impressive 16 points, or 2.28 points per turnover.
The Boilermakers are a horrific matchup, especially without LeVert, but this wasn’t the step in the right direction that John Beilein’s team hoped to take after the last month of steady improvement. The Wolverines get a little time off this weekend before another marquee opponent in Maryland at the Crisler Center on Tuesday.
- Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: We’ve seen Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman do this in the past, but this was one of his best performances of his career. With Michigan facing a pressure perimeter defensive team and struggling to get anything going, Abdur-Rahkman just went to work and attacked the rim. He was 8-of-11 on two-point attempts and many of them had a ridiculous degree of difficulty.
- Derrick Walton: This was another disappointing showing for Derrick Walton in a game where Michigan so badly needed him to take the next step. A few late threes padded his stats, but he looked out of sorts in the half court offense for most of the night. Walton has showed some flashes this season, but his assist to turnover numbers (5 assists to 10 turnovers) and two-point shooting numbers (3-of-15) have been ugly in Big Ten games.
- Zak Irvin: Irvin had strung together a nice stretch of 3 or 4 solid games, but he wasn’t up to the task of cracking Purdue’s defense. His drives to the rim were rejected emphatically and he missed all three triples that he attempted and mostly settled for a smattering of mid-range jumpers. He managed a team-high three assists, including a few nice skip passes for threes, but he also had a team-high 4 turnovers as he dribbled himself into trouble. Defensively, I thought Irvin did about as good of a job as you could ask against Caleb Swanigan, who scored only 7 points in 22 minutes.
- Duncan Robinson: Duncan Robinson was aggressive early, making two difficult threes and attempting several twos off the bounce that we’ve rarely seen from him, but he was locked down from around midway through the first half when Raphael Davis never left his side. The physicality of the game seemed to wear at him a bit and his habit of poor closeouts caught up to him as well as I’d guess he was burned on several of Purdue’s three-point makes on the night.
- Mark Donnal: Donnal had a few bright spots, but eventually was just overwhelmed by Hammons and Haas inside. The 2-for-2 three-point shooting was nice, but he had a critical bobble and giveaway that would have cut the game to four and instead ended up as a corner three for Purdue midway through the second half.
- DJ Wilson: Wilson was the second man off the bench, a move that Beilein attributed to a strong week in practice, and did a decent job in 15 minutes. I’m not going to fault Wilson for attempting five threes in the loss as Purdue was obviously going to let him have the shots and he was 6-of-12 from long distance before tonight’s game. He had a few bright spots defensively with a nice block and steal to utilize his length and even handed out two assists.
- Ricky Doyle: Doyle was the third big man off the bench, leap-frogged by DJ Wilson, and didn’t play many minutes in the loss. It’s clear that Doyle has been slipping as his only shot attempt was an easily blocked shot in the lane. He’s going to have to give the coaches a reason to move him up in the rotation right now.
- Aubrey Dawkins: This was a tough game for Aubrey Dawkins because he’s not ready to battle against a guy like Swanigan at the four, but he did knock down a pair of threes in the loss.
- Andrew Dakich: Dakich gave Michigan some great minutes in the first half and the Wolverines actually extended the lead, but he was in there just a bit too long and tried to do too much with a one handed scoop layup that was rejected and sent the other way, ending up in a three on the other end.
- Moritz Wagner: Wagner played a team-low four minutes and grabbed one rebound in limited action.