Game 21: Michigan at Purdue Recap

Michigan at Purdue 28
Photo: Dustin Johnston (Gallery)

Three days after losing on the road by a score of 66-64, Michigan went back on the road and flipped the script. This time it was Michigan that held on despite a desperation three point attempt to beat Purdue by an identical final tally of 66-64. Road games in college basketball boil down to mental toughness and composure, something that Michigan lacked to start its previous two road games, and the Wolverines demonstrated both characteristics today. Michigan executed on both ends of the floor at the start of the first and second half (opening 15-4 and 11-3 respectively) and managed to weather Purdue’s inevitable runs, even falling behind and bouncing back, before holding on against the Boilermakers last gasp effort.

I wrote in the preview that this wasn’t a typical Purdue defense and Michigan’s offense was able to exploit that fact. The Wolverines mustered 1.11 points per possession, their second best output in conference play, and shot the ball extremely well: 58% on twos and 43% on threes for a 60% effective field goal percentage. That was Michigan’s best eFG% shooting performance since mid-December but the shot distribution was most noteworthy. U-M attempted just 28% of its field goals from three point range, well below its Big Ten average of 44.1%.  The Wolverines also continued to be more aggressive attacking the offensive glass, rebounding 30.4% of their missed shots en route to 13 second chance points. The Achilles’ heel of the Michigan offense was uncharacteristic for this team: turnovers. The Wolverines coughed the ball up on 20.2% of their possessions and that seemed to allow Purdue to hang around – especially in the first half.

Michigan’s defense was far from perfect due to its inability to contain Lewis Jackson on the pick-and-roll. Jackson sliced his way into the lane for 17 points on eight shots along with eight assists and was the catalyst for a Boilermaker offense that scored 1.09 points per possession. Purdue shot the ball fairly well, 54% on twos and 35% on threes for a 52.9% effective field goal percentage, but Michigan’s defense did a great job on the defensive glass. The Wolverines secured 76.7% of Purdue’s misses and allowed just two second chance points on the night. It felt like Michigan did a great job of forcing turnovers at times but the Boilermakers coughed it up on only 15% of their possessions.

Purdue’s 17-3 second half run was spearheaded by a Boilermaker lineup with Robbie Hummel at the five position. Michigan went with Evan Smotrycz to counter the look and the defense fell apart. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Beilein left Smotrycz in the game for too long but I am more puzzled that Painter went back to Carroll rather than forcing Morgan to try to guard Hummel on the perimeter. This was the second conference game, Northwestern with John Shurna was the first, where Michigan has struggled to defend a small lineup with a five man that is a great three point threat. Smotrycz has proven himself as a shooting five man offensively but until he can guard players like Hummel or Shurna, he’s a defensive liability in these situations.

Four of Michigan’s last five games have been decided by two points or less and the Wolverines are 3-1 in those one possession games. The second to last Purdue possession was eerily similar to the end of the Michigan State game as Michigan’s defense defended to the bitter end, surrendered an offensive rebound, then buckled down one more time. Another parallel to that Michigan State game was the fact that the Wolverines allowed Purdue to come all the way back and take the lead but answered the blow, on the road this time. Michigan is developing the mental toughness required to win these sort of games and that should prove invaluable over the final two months of the season.

This was a huge rebound win for Michigan. The Wolverines shake the road win stigma off their backs, avoid a losing streak and picked up a win in a venue where they hadn’t won since 2003. Michigan is still (alone by a half game, for now) at the top of the Big Ten standings. Next up is a trip to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game in Columbus, where Ohio State has won three Big Ten games by an average margin of 27 points, is the toughest remaining on Michigan’s schedule but the opportunity is golden. An upset would establish Michigan as a legitimate conference championship contender.

Michigan at Purdue 14
Photo: Dustin Johnston (Gallery)

Player Bullets

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was the best big man on the floor and the difference in this game for Michigan. When he’s fighting for offensive rebounds, cutting hard, setting good screens and getting up and down the floor he’s a game changer in Michigan’s offense by providing easy points. What I notice about Morgan is that now he’s picking up fouls being too aggressive for offensive rebounds rather than silly fouls away from the basket – a welcome shift. He’s battling, playing tough and finishing around the hoop (5-of-7 today) even if he still misses some you feel that he should make. He had two assists and three turnovers but he was passed into most of the turnovers (or fouled) and the two assists were great plays from a tricky situation.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway hit some huge shots on the night. His four turnovers were frustrating but, for the most part, they were a product of attacking the basket. He was 8-of-15 (2-6 3pt) from the field for 19 points and played the entire 40 minutes. In the second half he looked as focused and involved mentally as he has in quite some time and Michigan managed to get him in a lot of situations curling or slashing toward the basket. 13 second half points on 5-of-9 (2-3 3pt) shooting and the clinching rebound are at the very least inklings of the big second half player that we saw last season.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass played a great game, one of the best of his career, and seemed to be a calming force for Michigan’s offense. He had a couple of crafty takes to the basket early and hit two shots late – a corner three and a inbound layup – that regained the Michigan lead. He finished the game 5-of-8 (2-3 3pt) for 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, one turnover and two steals. Douglass did a great job on Ryne Smith, who was 3-of-8 from three but had the makes against other defenders, and was effective on Lewis Jackson for stretches.
  • Zack Novak: It seems like every game there’s one or two plays that define Zack Novak. That play tonight was Novak setting a screen in the first half and knocking down the Purdue defender before popping out to hit a three. Novak had 5 points on 2-of-4 (1-1 3pt) shooting with eight rebounds, three assists and no turnovers on the night. His biggest play of the night was his assist to Morgan for the game winning dunk, a play that was the product of a Michigan adjustment to use Novak as the screener on the high pick-and-roll.
  • Trey Burke: Jackson was going to be a tough match-up for Burke and he struggled more than we’ve seen in a while. Burke was 3-of-10 (0-2 3pt) from the field but it should come as no surprise that he had two field goals and two assists in the final seven minutes of play – Burke wants the ball in the clutch. He had six assists for the game and did seem to make some critical adjustments late.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Good or bad, Smotrycz has the uncanny knack for being involved in seemingly every play while he’s on the court. In 15 minutes he scored 10 points, made three of five shots, attempted four free throws, grabbed two rebounds, had one turnover and fouled twice. He was great on the offensive end of the floor but perhaps even worse defensively. Purdue scored 34 of its 64 points during the 15 minutes that Smotrycz was on the floor and Michigan was outscored by 17 points. Plus/minus is a relatively flawed metric but Purdue’s big run came with Smotrycz on the floor and Evan was at fault on a number of big Purdue baskets.
  • Matt Vogrich: Another game when Vogrich’s primary contribution was a strong take to the basket. It’s nice to see with his three point shot struggling but it would be nice to see him heat up from three point range.
  • Carlton Brundidge: Brundidge got some first half playing time but didn’t do a lot. He got stuck on a drive for a jump ball and didn’t make much a positive effect defensively. Michigan needs options off the bench but Brundidge still appears to be a work in progress.
  • Eso Akunne: Akunne also checked in during the first half and was in over his head against Lewis Jackson, he injured his foot and will get X-rays tomorrow back in Ann Arbor.
  • rlcBlue

    Glad we pulled that one out – we were the better team, but it was West Lafayette.

    I have to admit that Painter can coach – I never expected Purdue to be even this good without Jackson and Eat One More.

    • Kevin Y

      Purdue was definitely well-coached.  The evidence was how ready they were for both of our zones, the 1-3-1 and the 2-3 (with some assistance from Hardaway).

  • Gavin Groninger’s Weiner

    Thanks for staying up late to post this!

    • Sven187

      haha thats a funny name

  • ColinNer

    I think a key to Hardaway’s game is getting that first shot to fall. His first shot (not counting the desperation 3 to start the game) was a jumper from the free throw line which he rattled home. That seemed to get his confidence going and he ended up playing a solid game for the first time in a few games.

    • Ace_maker4

      Ditto UM needs to try and get THjr the ball coming off a curl early in the game where he is cutting to the basket. He has a chance of scoring early that way on the play or the foul.

  • Jeff

    At half time, I was thinking of how I would compose my post about reducing Hardaway’s minutes going forward. Man, did he look lost in the first half. Purdue players were just ripping the ball right out of his hands. Then he came back really strong in the 2nd half. That’s the Hardaway we’ve been hoping to see all year. I’ve said this before, but I hope this is the beginning of him turning it around. By the way, that first picture is awesome. Looks like he’s screaming in Jackson’s face. Don’t think he was though.

  • Zok

    Why is Brundidge so lost out there? I’ll be the first to admit I don’t follow recruiting much but he was rated higher than burke in some places yet he’s a TO machine out there and just plain lost. Looks like we grabbed a guy from the stands and threw him in? What gives?

    I thought at the very least he would be a good slasher who could get to the hole and kick it out but it looks like he can’t even dribble. Guess I’m just confused/shocked at the lack of PT and how lost he looks when he gets in.

    I know he is a frosh and we might be “spoiled” by Burke. But in this day and age Freshman are expected to contribute from day one. Save for a big that needs to grow into his frame or something. Frosh guards should be able to play some mins and not be a complete disaster…and this team is in desperate need of some guard depth.

    • gpsimms

      I think a big part of it is that at Southfield, I think it always looked like they just gave Carlton the ball and let him go to work.  And he’s shown flashes of that.  For example, in his very limited minutes, he’s drawn a ton of fouls.

      I just don’t think he’s ever been in a system like this, and he’s never conditioned at this level, so he’s a bit behind.

      He’s got talent, and you can see he’s got some quicks.  I still have high hopes for him.

      • Mith

        Yeah, I’m not worried about CB.  IT make take him a little time to develop at the college level.

    • JimC

      Another factor is that we have 2 good Seniors, with leadership qualities, playing well, who are basically shooting guards.  That’s CB’s position, but it’s a high hurdle to cut into Stu & Zack’s time.

  • Mattski

    Lotta positive takeaways, personnel-wise: Jordan Morgan is a rising star (again), and makes the team much more three-dimensional. With Stu, Vogrich, Zack, and Smot all a threat to drive, teams have to defend most of the court. Novak has become money from three, and chooses his spots really wisely. Hardaway seems to be getting his groove back, and if Smotrycz is again finding his form, amen to almost losing the game by not yanking him last night. Fans can give up on Smotrycz, Beilein cannot. (Wonder what would happen if they redshirted SMOTRYCZ next year? Let him really get strong, work on his coordination and quickness.)

    Is it his lateral movement that Burke needs to work on? Maybe he has bulked up a bit too much; he may also be just a half-step slower, tired, too. Credit Jackson; he played a great game. I don’t much care for Purdue these days (loved them under Keady), but I felt sorry for him.

    Wonderful that M has a few days to rest, and for Beilein to develop a good game plan–I bet we with the Buckeyes a good game.

    Amazing photos.

  • ChathaM

    “Good or bad, Smotrycz has the uncanny knack for being involved in seemingly every play while he’s on the court.” I couldn’t help but laugh when I read that. So true. On the offensive end, you can fairly accurately predict a positive or negative outcome based on where he catches the ball and whether or not he puts the ball on the floor. He’s the definition of a player who needs to recognize his limitations.

    I loved UM’s offensive efficiency (a few too many TO, but shooting efficiency was tremendous). That was a more appropriate number of 3 point attempts for this group, and it showed in the percentages. I wonder whether any opponent will come out with a plan to allow the 3, and force UM to shoot a lot of 3’s. I think it’d be worth a try.

    Jackson was a nightmare; so quick; quicker off the dribble than those Arkansas guards, I think. It was a smart second half adjustment by Beilein to have the help (usually Morgan) switch onto Jackson immediately off the screen, and stay with him down the lane. At least a few times, that caused Jackson to simply loop under the basket and pass out to the perimeter, where the rest of the defence was set. Very smart. When Morgan was on the bench, though, it was Smot who had to switch onto Jackson, which was completely unfair to Smot, and the results were predictable. It’s also worth noting that when Douglass guarded Jackson, Jackson had trouble penetrating one on one, which speaks to Douglass’ brilliance as a defender.

    Dakich was off point when he criticized Burke for penetrating early in the shot clock with just over a minute to play. Every night, you’ll see a team, up by a possession with the ball, milk the shot clock, only to end up with some sort of desperation shot at the shot clock buzzer, which only serves to give the ball back to the opponent down one possession. Burke penetrated, drew help, and made a very nice pass to Morgan, which could/should have resulted in a layup and a 3 point lead. I couldn’t tell whether the pass was a bit off, or whether Morgan simply didn’t handle it or was fouled. But, my point is that this was a good basketball play that was entirely appropriate in the situation, even if it did run against conventional basketball wisdom.

    I’d love to know what Novak was screaming during the late game timeout. Bacari referred to Novak screaming “NOT TONIGHT” in that huddle, but there was more to it than that. True leader.

    I’m a Matt Painter fan after last night. I thought he coached a great game.  

    • UMQuasi

      I Completely agree regarding Burke driving at the end.  When Purdue was shooting free throws with 1:08 to go, I was saying “two for one”.  I know the conventional wisdom in college basketball (as opposed to the NBA) is to be more concerned with getting a good shot, as opposed to the 2 for 1, but it’s not as if there were 48 seconds left and we would have had to force a shot within 5 seconds–there were almost 2 full shot clocks.

      I’d much rather give the ball to Purdue with 50 seconds, knowing that if they scored, we’d get the last shot, than give them the ball down 1 with 33 seconds and a chance to end the game.

      • MGoTweeter

        agree with your strategy, but I also agree with Dakich on that particular play in that Burke did look like he lost control a bit and forced a pass to Morgan.  I like him attacking in that instance, but I really wish he had the ability to see the play is not there and pull it out.  However, that is a lot to expect from a true freshman point guard in that situation, so you probably have to live with the chance that he makes a bad decision there.

    • Guest

      When Hummel and Novak were in HS, Hummel’s Valpo High School team owned Novak’s Chesterton High School team. Not sure its related, but payback never hurts the spirits.

  • Matt d

    ESPN updated their rankings for 2013 today, looks like Irvin has moved up to #58(was 74 I believe), while Donnal has moved up from the #20 PF to #14. It appears that Walton’s status will remain(#25 PG)

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/103531/zak-irvin

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/140197/mark-donnal

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/102632/derrick-walton

    • Kokobear

      Donnal, with a rating of 92, may end up sneaking into the top 100 when the rankings get expanded, as 92 rated players show up as high as #71 in this years rankings. I wonder why we went after Walton so early with James Young, E.C. Matthews and Monte Morris all also playing PG in michigan – seems to be the source of some debate.

  • ChathaM

    With Purdue and Iowa State out of the RPI top 50, Michigan is now tied with 4 other teams (Syr, Kansas, G’town, Duke) with 5 RPI top 50 wins. Baylor and Dayton lead the country with 6 such wins. 

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      A lot of chances left too. Seven games versus top 50 teams and Iowa State and Purdue seem more than capable of playing their way in when all is said and done.

  • Dr_ZC

    Since somebody mentioned the color of the uniforms, a quiz for the fellow wolverines.

    When did the UM basketball team introduce the maze uniforms and against what team?

    (clue, great team, great rivalry)

    • Mith

      Fab Five, 1992 against Duke, is the way I remember it.

      • Dr_ZC

        Indeed, the first nationally televised game on CBS for the Fab Five against Duke.

    • Stevesharik

      Too easy…Fab Five against Duke in Dec. of ’91.

  • Greg R

    “Matt Vogrich: Another game when Vogrich’s primary contribution was a strong take to the basket. It’s nice to see with his three point shot struggling but it would be nice to see him heat up from three point range.”

    Just would add that I thought Matty V did a nice job on Hummel, guarding him for a period of time in the middle of the second half while Smot was playing ineffective defense.  Hummel kind of went into a lull hanging around the 3 point line, and Vogrich did not make his life easier, while giving up about a half a foot in height.  Also credit Beilein for throwing multiple looks on defense at Hummel, keeping him off-balance throughout the game.  The majority of his looks were created by Jackson’s effectiveness on the pick and roll, but we were not hurt by Robbie’s ability to create.

    • Marvin

      I totally agree about Vogrich on Hummel. At one point he fought through a screen and slightly redirected a pass intended for Hummel near the perimeter. The result was that Hummel had to collect the ball 25 ft. from the hoop rather than collecting it in the shooting pocket 21 ft. from the hoop. That kind of thing doesn’t show up in the box score but in a 2 point game on the road it factors in monumentally. 

  • Mattski

    Was just studying the upcoming schedule, and it looks to me like this team–routinely pegged as placeholders until the real players get here next year, including in several annoying diaries by Brian over at mgoblog–is on track for the best regular season record of the Beilein era at Michigan.

    • JimC

      and the best record since, when?     1998……14 years!!

  • Graham Brown

    on an unrelated note – did anyone else see Larry Nance Jr.’s dunk on Sportscenter?

    remind me why Beilein offered Colton Christian over Nance?

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      He offered Bielfeldt over Nance. 

      • Graham Brown

        oh okay, that makes more sense I guess. Thanks.

        • Ace_maker4

          Nance seems to be getting quality minutes in pretty much every game; it will be interesting to see how his sealing is over the next few years.

    • Mbball

      so brent petway is pretty much the greatest player of all time?

  • gpsimms

    +/- isn’t a “flawed” metric I wouldn’t say.  Kenpom’s whole piece about it was suggesting that +/- over a limited sample does not indicate future performance.  He is not suggesting that it cannot be used to “assign blame” after a game is in the books. 

    fwiw, I think +/- in this case is exactly representative of Smot’s game last night.  He scored some points, but was killing the team.

    Our offense did not miss Smot at all when he was on the bench because JMo and Stu were killing it, but our defense was really hurting when Jmo wasn’t on the floor. Hence – a lot for Smot and + a lot for Morgan.

    • MGoTweeter

      there is no question that Smotrycz was at least partially to blame for several defensive lapses last night, but to use plus/minus to show that is flawed.  Who was on the floor for Michigan with Smotrycz?  Who was on the floor for Purdue?  Not to mention were all the shots that Purdue got all that different from the shots they got when he was out of the game?  Did Purdue just gain some confidence and make shots they were missing before?   There are so many more important factors that play into such an evaluation, +/- is for lazy people who do not want to actually analyze a game.

      • gpsimms

        dude, the non-smot subs logged 8 minutes and a -4 total.

        there were practically only two lineups in the game:
        burke
        stu
        thjr
        novak
        morgan

        and

        burke
        stu
        thjr
        novak
        smot

        one lineup got killed, the other one killed it.

        +/- is not entirely descriptive of everything that happened in the game, i understand that, but to just dismiss it, and say that people pointing out are being lazy is just as silly as only relying on +/- to determine everything about what happened in the game.

        as with all things in stats, we take all the information given, and try to organize it into meaningful data.  we look at all the data, and try to extrapolate truths, in this game (but not all games), the +/- data is very revealing.

        • MGoTweeter

          i was not saying that those questions (as to the lineup) were true for this game, just that they are factors that need to be looked at in order to assign any value to a +/-.  To me, +/- is a random stat thrown into box scores, that cannot be used to assign blame to individual players.  Why should a player get a minus if an opposing team scores and he does everything right on that defensive possession?  It is meaningless unless you actually look at the game, and see that the player missed the rotation and allowed a layup or failed to close out on a shooter to contest the shot or closed out to high and got beat off the dribble.  In this particular game, Smotrycz certainly was to blame for numerous defensive lapses but using +/- to blame him is lazy.  You need to actually break down the film to see where and why he was to blame.

          • gpsimms

            meh, i will just disagree i guess…

            i would like to point out that what i said was “in this game, Evan’s +/- stat is indicative of the game he had”

            as opposed to “evan was -85, he must have played awful!”

            p.s. you’re one of the best posters on this site! and i rarely disagree with what you write. *hugs it out* 

          • MGoTweeter

            ty and same to you.  I enjoy reading your comments and this type of discussion is what makes this site so great.  My beef is certainly not with you.  I am not a big stats guy in terms of qualifying players based off of them, so I always tend to get too riled up when I see them used.

    • Mbball

      a different angle on +/- is that Smot was at a disadvantage for this statistic because a handful of his minutes were replacing jordan morgan, so he had a difficult task playing out of position at the 5 and being on the court the whole time the team was playing without a center. the whole team is at a disadvantage here because jordan is on the bench. if it’s not smotz filling in at the 5, then the +/- gap during the minutes when jordan is on the bench is probably wider. who else is going to play the 5 for these extended minutes? Blake? Colton? maybe they play 2 minutes of it but no more. 
      I agree with your points about southfield high and carlton. i have high hopes for him too, hope he puts it together soon. it’s looking more and more like next season will be the soonest he does.

      • gpsimms

        actually, since stu’s minutes have blown up in the last few games, the 5 is smot’s position now.  he has only logged a very few minutes at the four each game. 

        and yes, i agree that the team is at a disadvantage defensively when smot is at the five, but with horford out, and stu playing well, it is the best spot for him.

        • Mbball

          i was just pointing out that playing smotz at the 5 is a huge disadvantage for his “+/-” statistic, but his +/- is hardly useful from a strategic standpoint because putting him at the 5 is the team’s best option. Given Evan’s assignment, +/- is an unfair way to evaluate him. Evan’s “+/-” doesn’t provide much insight here, it points out an obvious weakness with our depth at center. 

          • gpsimms

            yeah you’re right.  i agree.  get health john john!

  • Stevesharik

    I think Beilein having an extra day to prepare will mean M will play Ohio closer than the experts think, but I don’t know if it will make a difference. The cheaters are, of course, loaded with talent.  I think we can and will deal w/Sullinger okay as long as Morgan stays out of foul trouble.  It’s Horford and their other athletic wings that are a problem.  I think Burke is going to dominate Aaron Craft.

    • Stevesharik

      Sorry, Buford, not Horford.

    • gpsimms

      i don’t think there is anything that would make me happier than seeing burke dominate craft.  that said, craft is pretty tough defensively, and refs have a pretty huge hard-on for him.  it’s pretty hard for anyone to dominate craft.

      my bet is both point guards don’t do a lot of scoring, and play relatively even.

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