Game 13: Purdue at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Photo Credit: & AP

Things are never as good or bad as they seem. It’s a simple proverb but it couldn’t be more true. Michigan’s 10-2 record caused optimism to boil over while masking deficiencies – things might not have been quite as rosy as they appeared. The ten minutes or so of this one were one of those times where it didn’t look like things could get much worse. Luckily no matter how frustrating a loss feels at the time, it still just counts as a single loss.

For the first 10 minutes of the game it appeared that Michigan didn’t stand a chance. Purdue opened the game with a 19-3 run and Michigan looked relatively helpless on both ends. The Wolverines answered with a 19-4 run of their own, pulling themselves right back into the game and took the lead with 1:20 remaining. The final four possessions of the half might have been the most costly stretch of the game as Purdue closed the half on a 5-0 run. It didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off in the second half.

You could probably count the number of stops that Michigan’s defense made in the second half on one hand. Purdue, a team that’s been relatively pedestrian offensively this season, surgically dismantled the Michigan defense with ease. The Boilermakers scored 1.61 points per possession in the second half thanks to a 73% effective field goal percentage and a 3% turnover rate (1 TO). It was probably as close to a perfect offensive half as you will see during this Big Ten season.

It wasn’t just the “big two” of E’Twaun Moore, 21 points on 8 of 16 (3-5 3pt) shooting and 9 rebounds, and JaJuan Johnson, 22 points on 6 of 16 shooting (10-10 FT) and 8 rebounds, that killed Michigan. Ryne Smith posted a career night going 6 of 7 (5-6 3pt) from the field and netting 17 points. Michigan left Smith open time and time again and he made them pay every time. Freshman Terone Johnson has struggled this year but he had arguably his best game of the season going 4 of 6 from the field for 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Beating Purdue is tough when Johnson and Moore score their points, it’s almost impossible when they get significant help.

Michigan struggled with Purdue’s pressure defense as they turned it over on 22% of their possessions. More costly than the turnovers was the fact that Michigan was unable to get into their offensive sets on several possessions resulting in poor desperation shot attempts. Michigan actually shot a very good 39.5% from three point range but they were unable to score inside the arc, shooting just 37.5% on twos. JaJuan Johnson was a presence defensively in the paint as he blocked three shots and affected several others.

We know this team is young – the seventh youngest in Division I – and this was quite clearly a “welcome to the big leagues” moment. Purdue was more talented, more experienced, and they made Michigan pay. Still, getting blown out at home is painful and disheartening, especially the way that Michigan seemed to roll over down the stretch. In the grand scheme of things, a loss to Purdue, the #11 team in the country, isn’t nearly as costly as losing more winnable games versus teams in the lower half of the league. The next question is how will Michigan respond. Talor Battle makes Penn State a team that can beat just about anyone on any given night, but Penn State is a winnable game.

Photo Credit: MGoBlue

Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: Morris didn’t start the game due to disciplinary reasons and didn’t really make up for it with his play. Darius was dreadful shooting the ball, 3 of 14 (1-5 3pt), in a game where Michigan really needed his offensive production. He did have 6 assists to 1 turnover but I am a bit skeptical with the turnover number. Morris threw a number of passes that probably didn’t give his teammates the best chance to make a play which led to turnovers.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass shot Michigan back into the game during the first half and finished the game as Michigan’s most productive scorer: 15 points on 6 of 10 (3-6 3pt) shooting with a couple blocks and two turnovers. Stu isn’t a point guard, and needs to continue being more aggressive with the ball in his hands, but his offensive game continues to improve.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway was the most noticeably rattled of any Michigan player. He dropped a pair of passes that would have resulted in layups, came out in the wrong defensive set once, and just seemed generally shaky. To his credit he did a good job on the defensive glass and played some good on ball defense for stretches.
  • Jordan Morgan: For stretches he shows flashes offensively – most notably taking it at JaJuan Johnson a few times — but he lacks the athleticism to make a difference defensively around the rim. There seemed to be several times when Morgan was late providing help defense or was just unable to influence a shot attempt in the lane. Morgan also tagged with 5 turnovers but I think several of these were off the ball fouls or illegal screens, I’d have to double check.
  • Jon Horford: Similar to Morgan, he continues to show flashes but obviously isn’t ready to deal with a player of JaJuan Johnson’s caliber in the post. Judging by the way Michigan has played under John Beilein, I would bet that the first thing listed in the game plan for dealing with JaJuan Johnson would be don’t allow him to get to the free throw line and force him to make the tough shot – that didn’t happen. Also, the three point attempts need to stop until he proves that he can make them.
  • Zack Novak: Novak does a lot for this team but he just hasn’t been able to find his offensive game. Novak was just 25% from the field again today with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, and one of the most ridiculous looking blocks I’ve ever seen. Obviously Novak plays significant minutes and Michigan needs to figure out a way to get more out of him offensively.
  • Evan Smotrycz: He can shoot it – 39% from three on the year – but he needs to figure out more ways to influence the game. Smotrycz looked very tentative with his handle on the perimeter which forced him to start playing minutes at the five rather than the four. 0 rebounds and 5 fouls in 15 minutes are both troubling numbers.
  • Matt Vogrich: He didn’t provide a spark scoring the ball but he did grab two rebounds, hand out an assist, and pick up a block in 18 minutes. Michigan needs Vogrich to get open three point looks when he’s in the game and today he couldn’t find them.

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  • GrandChamp

    We could have used CB and TB big time today.

  • Kevine

    In Morgan and Horford’s defense, I doubt there are many people in the Big Ten, or country, who can defend JuJuan. They didn’t do terribly in the first half, but the second half he really was feeling it.

  • Brian W

    It was a tough loss. Time to move on, learn from it, and beat Penn State on Sunday.

  • JimC

    There seemed to be some really strange foul calls:
    -A couple times when smaller players bumped into Morgan and fell down, Morgan was called for the charge/pick.
    -5 fouls on Evan – is he really that physical?!
    -The foul on Horford just after his dunk.

    It doesnt impact the outcome, and some of the marginal calls went against PU, but I wonder if JB has the presence/intensity to work the officials.
    In a really close game it can make a difference, and officials can impact the outcome.

    • Jeff

      I’ve wondered the same thing regarding working the officials. Guys like Izzo and Ryan ride the officials the whole game and I think it definitely has an effect. It’s not really Beilein’s style though. Hopefully, as the team gets better, we’ll get more respect from the officials.

    • Andy

      I wasn’t upset with two of the three you mention.

      – The one play where Morgan went down to his back was a complete dive on his part. I know that’s part of the game, but I don’t blame the ref for not calling it.
      – Evan’s fouls were kind of ridiculous. Especially the one where Johnson backed into him to get position and Valentine did his little dance about Evan giving him the knee. Bad call.
      – Horford’s foul after his dunk was a good call and a dumb move on Horford’s part. He was fired up after the dunk and took two steps right at Johnson and gave him a hard forarm for no reason. Not a good play and definite momentum killer.

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  • matt d

    Being at the game, the thing that jumped out to me the most was our lack of lateral quickness from the guard spot. With the exception of Morris(not necassarily the quickest, but compensates with size/length), we just don’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front of guards like Moore. During the 2nd half, Purdue was running high screen and rolls or simple isolations at the top of the key and hitting Smith for the corner 3 after dribble penetration. Brundidge and Burke will provide much needed help in this area starting next year.

    Second, I have to agree with an analyst’s(can’t recall his name) viewpoint from Atlantic City – he said that Michigan has a bunch of “above average” ball handlers, but nobody really good with the exception of Morris. Nothing could be truer, Evan was very shaky out there to say the least, Novak is only decent, Stu has a pretty good handle, but lacks lateral quickness, while Vogrich and Hardaway simply aren’t good ball handlers at this point. I can see why Morris is playing the heavy minutes, he is quite simply the only player on the team equipped to deal with pressure defense. Again, Burke and Brundidge will provide the relief.

    • georgeesq.

      Don’t expect Brundidge to have lateral quickness. He doesn’t. He will help in terms of ball handling, though. I think that penetration by Purdue’s guards would not have have been as much of a problem if we didn’t leave the shooters. We sagged in too far and left Smith and T. Johnson open repeatedly. I don’t think that that was the game plan. What made it worse was that they rarely missed.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Leaving Ryne Smith open was obviously a mistake but terone Johnson was shooting 34% on twos and 26% on threes before that game.

      • matt d

        Having seen Brundidge play a few times, I would agree that he isn’t necessarily “quick” to the naked eye, but he is quicker than 2 of our 3 primary ball handlers(Novak & Douglass), so that is still an improvement. He certainly handles the ball better than either at this point as well.

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    For those of you that like punishment, the torrent is up at

  • Eddie

    Not sure Smot’s use at the five was due to his lack of handle (which he certainly lacks). I’m wondering if coach decided to go small to try to jump start his offense, pull JJ out of the lane, cause mismatches on the perimeter, possibly get a couple cheap fouls on JJ, etc. Obviously it was a failed ploy, but an interesting one to watch unfold.

    Is it me or does Smot’s yellow tee under his uni make his alligator arms even seem smaller than they already are?

  • maxwell’s demon

    This game reminds me a bit of our opener to Wisco a couple years ago. While I’m disappointed in our effort down the stretch, we were simply over matched by a better team who couldn’t miss if they tried. Luckily for us I think MSU is the only other team that will really extend the pressure like that. Unluckily for us, this is a conference with some serious talent or at least size in the post. Anyone watch the Minnesota/Wisconsin game? They are huge.

  • Tweeter

    The biggest thing that I am noticing right now, is that when this team faces pressure defense, they do not have the playmakers on the wing. Which really wrecks the whole offense because a team can pressure the ball and take away passes, yet there is no penalty to worry about. Smotrycz, Hardaway, Novak and vogrich all had opportunities in isolation situations to attack their man, yet they either lack the ability or confidence to do so.

    At this point, I think I am of the opinion that when this team sees a pressure defense, they should go to a Duke-look and spread the floor. Give Darius the ball out near midcourt to one side of the floor, put two shooters in the corners, one other ball handler across the court and bring the five-man to the top of the key for a ball screen. Then just let Darius attack and see what happens.

    Michigan does something similar at the end of clock situations, but they never really spread the floor out, so the help defenders job is a little easier. Beilein said this team is not yet at a point where they can counter the pressure, so doing some simple things seems like a good idea to me.

    • Beast1530

      which is why losing out on Dom Pointer hurts Michigan. Dom Pointer is exactly the type of player that would wreck the pressure defense and there would be more open players out at the three point line.

    • Kool Breeze

      Tweeter, totally agree, these cats need to learn how to dribble drive!

      • JimC

        Yeah omg that pressure defense was such a difference. It was probably a matter of 2 or 3 inches, but it seemed like PU was draped all over the ball handlers, whereas our check on the ball was loose. Refs won’t call but one of 20 hand checks. Our guys need to know what gets called and what doesn’t.

  • mgocanada

    Not even going to comment on that disaster; I am choosing to believe that Purdue IS every bit the team it was supposed to be before losing Hummel, and IS a clear number 2 in the conference after OSU. I am choosing not to believe the trope that has 6 equally-matched teams occupying the top half of the conference, because then I would feel like killing myself.

    Penn State ought to be more than beatable — that is an absolutely must win home game, even with Talor Battle having the game of his life. PSU got blown out at home by the illustrious Maine Black Bears, who themselves have losses to the mighty pollsters of Quinnipiac University and to Brown, which I hear offers an elite media studies program. Don’t mean to be cocky, but Michigan > Maine.

  • Andy

    Couple things…

    1. I am becoming more impressed with Vogrich. I honestly thought he was a lost cause and he was tough in there for a big stretch of the first half. I would bet his +/- for the game is by far the highest on the team. He has a ways to go, but I think I’m seeing some potential.

    2. I hope the Pistsons get JuJuan Johnson. I think he can be a KG type player in the NBA.

    3. I wish the Big Ten would change the way it’s officiated. I know this sounds like sour grapes, but the amount of clutching and grabbing and riding of guys is tiresome. Ticky tack stuff gets called in the post, but defenses seem to have free reign to just hand check the dribbler on the perimiter. It seems like the Big East doesn’t let that stuff go and the result is a more free flowing, enjoyable brand of basketball. (I don’t mean that this is called only against Michigan, I think it goes both ways pretty evenly)

    • Jeff

      I agree on #3. It actually seems to be a conscious decision as to the way conference games are officiated. Seems like they want the Big Ten to be known as the toughest, most defense-oriented league, but it makes for some ugly basketball.

      • maxwell’s demon

        We know Beilein agrees on #3 too based on his comments from last year. In the post game video he also talks about how physical Purdue is. The problem is, I don’t think it’s going to change. So what is Beilein gonna do about it?

    • JimC

      I love Vogrich, but am down on this guy after PU. He is in the game to hit 3’s and if he’s not doing that, anything else he does is just window dressing.
      Cmon Vogrich, get open!!

  • Jeff

    Man, the Big Ten network really needs to work on it’s production. I went to the game, but recorded it. I was curious about a few foul calls. In particular, a foul on Horford late in the first half and one of Smotrycz early in the 2nd half. The BTN missed both plays completely and didn’t show replays. They also seem to lose the ball several times a game and when the teams are in half-court sets, there are usually a couple players off-screen. It’s nice to be able to see nearly all the UofM games, but they really need to get it together.

  • Dave

    It is only one game.

    That being said, this game did show that this team is not nearly ready to contend for any post-season tournament. Losing by 23 at home to ANYBODY is just dreadful. They will need to improve significantly to have a chance at a 0.500 or better record in the Big Ten.

    Two points in their favor. First of all, DMo didn’t start and this might have cost them any chance to be in this game. If this is a one-time event, they should avoid similar 19-3 opening disasters. Secondly, they are mostly freshman and should learn and improve after this experience.

    Will the learning curve be steep or shallow?

  • gordie bell

    Tough game for sure, but I think this young team will adjust to the Big Ten style of play sooner than later.
    Purdue played very aggresive D and our wings didn’t make them pay. If a guy is gonna get in your face 25 feet from the basket you MUST blow by him. You blow by the guy a couple of times and he isn’t going to be in your face anymore. Hardaway and Smot have the capability to do this, they just need to get comfortable.
    Purdue played Morris exactly as I expected and they had the defenders to make the overplay tactic effective. Morris is the best player on the team but he is not very good going to his left and teams know it, that being said, Morris is the least of our problems offensively, our other players have to be more assertive.
    Case in point, Novak’s turnover late in the game when he caught the ball near the sideline and immediatley threw the ball back to Darius and it ended up as a steal and a dunk. Novak never looked at the basket and worse didn’t even appear to contemplate looking at the basket. I know you are struggling Zack, but you have to make someone guard you. the contested 7 foot pass Zack attempted is available at any time. Play aggresive or don’t play at all. I know I know Zack is ultra aggresive on the defensive end, he needs to show some fight on the offensive end as well, all M players need to.

  • Deacon Blues

    Home losses of 20-plus in B10 play are really rare. Out of 99 games last season, there were two: MSU @ Northwestern and Wisconsin @ Indiana.

  • Scott

    The Purdue game exposed Michigan. Without Manny this year, no one can create their own shot. Morris has some opportunities, but not enough.
    Zack Novak is a “tweener”. Can not contribute enough offensively at either the 2 or 3. Unfortunately, there is not anyone on this roster who could step-up and take his spot. Ideally, Stu and Zack should be coming off the bench.
    I hate that Beilein never stresses the importance of offensive rebounding. With the amount of long shots they take, Michigan seems to never comes up with an o-board.

  • Joe

    As disappointing as the final outcome was, it still only counts as 1 loss. Purdue has only lost 1 game on the season and their shooters were on fire. A role player, such as Ryne Smith, hitting 5 of 6 from the 3 point line is not going to happen every game. Purdue played a very good game. Hopefully Michigan will learn some valuable lessons from this game.

    Another thought….Purdue will be one of the most agressive defensive teams we will face this year.

    Michigan is young….hopefully they will have a quick learning curve.

    • Jeff

      Agree that it was only one game and they need to move on.

      The problem with Smith is that they kept leaving him wide open–looked like Hardaway was the culprit most of the time.

      OSU, MSU, Wisconsin and Minnesota all play defense just like Purdue. At least we’ll have time to get used to it.

  • Sam

    Yes, this was a very depressing loss in blowout fashion, but I think some people on here need to step back and take a look at the team and what they thought of it coming into the season. Let’s be honest, we start three freshmen (3, THREE!), a sophomore, and a junior. Do we all so easily forget the struggles that DMo had last year as a freshman? He goes from being really a disadvantage on the court to being our best player over one season. Vogrich was lost last year on the court and now at least looks competent. Going back even further, if any of you remember Deshawn Sims as a freshman, it was not a pretty thing. And what did he do in his four years?

    Certainly our team is probably not ready to compete night-in and night-out with the Purdues and Wisconsins of the league, but give it one or two seasons and I think we will be right up there. In my opinion, experience is absolutely the most underrated aspect of college basketball players. Manny Harris is the only player for Michigan that I can remember (obviously the Fab Five had a few) having a significant impact as a freshman, and now we are throwing three and four freshmen into the fire every game because we have no other choice. Jordan Morgan obviously has some holes in his game, but if he continues to work hard, don’t be surprised to see him eventually as an All Big Ten contender. He is leaps and bounds ahead of where Peedi was as a freshman. Same with Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Jon Horford. Give them some time to develop and watch the wins roll in. Enjoy the roller coaster ride we are on right now knowing what the future holds.

    Sorry for the rant, but I just had to let it out.

    • SubAlum_06

      You are right on Sam. There will mountain tops and valleys this year, hopefully the valleys will be shorter in duration and further in between than last year.

    • maxwell’s demon

      Good points and agree with your general sentiment. Daniel Horton was a beast as a freshman though, FWIW.

      • rlc

        Jamal Crawford also had “significant impact as a freshman” – on and off the court.

        • Sam

          Crawford and Horton are both good examples that I forgot in my hurry, but I think you get my point. Those kind of guys are probably going to come maybe once every four recruiting classes.

    • steve

      of course there are obviously many freshman who make huge impacts right away (john wall, jared sullinger, etc.) but those are the cream of the crop. The guys beilein brings in are supposed to develop in the off-season (like morris and vogrich). This is only one game and i am not too discouraged yet.

      beat penn state!

  • Section13Row15

    Good point Sam. I think Dylan’s post about recalibrating our expectations before this game goes a long way to what happened yesterday. I was very surprised however, that no one has mentioned the fact that our top assistant coach from last year (Jackson) joined Purdue’s staff last off-season and obviously had an advantage knowing what our offense is trying to do and how to stop it. I agree with the other person who mentioned that we need guys who can blow by their man on the perimeter when teams begin to pressure us. Doing this will create more fouls and hopefully open up the outside shot when we get by them a couple times. it’s also what is supposed to create the back door cuts when the defense pressures hard on the wings. Our freshmen don’t look comfortable selling the backdoor cut and we only have one player (Morris) who can make the pass when the window is open. That is a huge problem to have but again our team is young and we will only get better. Let’s beat Penn State!

  • Kool Breeze

    A few more guys other then Morris need to learn the art of the dribble drive. Smotrycz, Hardaway and especially Vogrich look scared to have the ball in their hands with a man in their jock. Vogrich acts like the ball is a live grenade he gets rid of it so fast. Coach Beehive needs to address these or tough defensive teams will continue to give them trouble.