Game 29: Purdue at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Purdue 72, Michigan 59 - 30
Photo: Dustin Johnston

Michigan took the floor like a team expecting a victory lap its final home game. Purdue traveled to Ann Arbor desperate to play its way into the NCAA tournament. This group of Michigan players has been on the other end of the equation as recently as last year but wasn’t up to the task to fend off Purdue. The differences in intensity and focus were obvious from the start as Purdue jumped out to an early 12-2 lead. The Wolverines consistently found ways to fight back, even taking the lead midway through the second half, but Purdue answered every Michigan run before pulling away down the stretch.

Michigan didn’t play a great game offensively but the loss is directly attributable to the Wolverines’ second worst defensive performance of the season. Purdue executed its inside-out offensive attack, which was lethal in stretches during the first match-up, to perfection. The game plan consisted of utilizing the high pick-and-roll to exploit Michigan’s tendency to switch screens on the perimeter and exploit mismatches. Terone Johnson and Lewis Jackson both slashed to the basket at will, often times defended by Michigan’s fives, and their teammates stepped up in support. The Boilermakers hit a number of challenging shots – contested threes, Lewis Jackson’s first three pointer in Big Ten play, a Travis Carroll jumper, Terone Johnson free throws and more – but also got their fair share of easy baskets. The end product was 51% two point shooting and 47% three point shooting for a 57% effective field goal percentage and 1.23 points per possession.

The Boilermakers didn’t do much on the offensive glass, grabbing just 21% of their misses, but maximized their opportunities with just five turnovers and shot the ball well enough to keep Michigan at bay.

The Wolverine offense was solid, netting 1 point per trip on the nose, but just not enough to keep up with Purdue’s torrid offensive pace. Michigan was effective around the hoop, making 57% of its twos, but couldn’t string together enough consistency offensively. The Wolverines settled for threes, especially late in the game, and weren’t productive with the long range efforts while making just 9-of-32 three point attempts. Michigan didn’t attempt a free throw in the first half and only got to the line four times in the second.

Michigan only turned the ball over on 14.8% of its possessions but the turnovers always seemed to kill any sort of offensive momentum. The Wolverine offense might have been more negatively affected by Purdue’s dearth of turnovers rather than turnover problems of its own. U-M only scored four points off turnovers and just two points in transition. The Wolverines ability to run selectively off of defensive rebounds and turnovers has proven to be a huge boost in recent wins and was completely neutralized.

It’s nearly impossible to go through a 30-plus game college basketball season without performances like this. That’s the primary reason that Michigan’s 15-0 home start was so impressive — the Wolverines had avoided or escaped performances just like this one up until this point. The harsh reality of the loss is that it not only cost Zack Novak and Stu Douglass a special moment, it almost certainly kills any realistic shot at a Big Ten regular season championship.

Luckily there’s more to play for. If this flat performance comes three weeks later we are talking about Michigan’s season ending with a bittersweet moment rather than the seniors’ final game in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines are playing for seeding, in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, and need to figure out a way to build from this loss going forward.

Purdue 72, Michigan 59 - 24
Photo: Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets

  • Trey Burke: Purdue used a hard hedge on the pick-and-roll and was very physical with Burke. The officials weren’t calling fouls up high and Burke was forced to fight through it. He had four turnovers and four assists but was just 2-of-12 from the field, shooting 2-for-6 on both twos and threes. Burke struggled, offensively and defensively, in both games against Purdue this season. Not only will NCAA tournament foes be studying this film, the Wolverines have a good chance of meeting Purdue again in Indianapolis.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway’s three point shooting continues to falter. He missed all six long range attempts and his seasonal percentage is now down to just 26%. He was productive when attacking the basket (5-of-7 on twos) and grabbed six rebounds but also had four turnovers to one assist. Everything seems to be a struggle for him at this point and even when he focuses on attacking he ends up making mistakes – forcing passes or turning the ball over.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass was one of the lone bright spots in the first half, scoring five points, handing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds, but he disappeared in the second half with just two points and no assists.
  • Zack Novak: Novak has been in a bit of a rough patch lately and missed some shots that he usually hits including everything from open threes to the open 15-footer he missed to start the game. Terone Johnson also got the best of him repeatedly off the dribble. Novak did hit some shots and battled for some late offensive rebounds but it was just too little too late.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Smotrycz did some nice things offensively, knocking down a three and scoring off a nice post-up against a smaller defender, but his miscommunication with Burke down the stretch led to the clinching Hummel threes. There are two sides to every miscommunication but those were the sort of defensive lapses that cost Michigan all game.
  • Jordan Morgan: Michigan switching so many screens left Morgan in situations where he was helpless defensively. Part of this falls on the game plan but part of it could be miscommunication – switching screens that shouldn’t be switched. Other than that, Morgan had a pretty typical Morgan-game with eight points and six rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting.
  • Matt Vogrich: 1-of-3 triples off the bench for Vogrich off the bench in 11 minutes and of course Michigan’s undefeated record when Vogrich hits a triple was snapped after I mentioned it in the last recap.
  • gpsimms

    yup  i think after everyone saying, “northwestern is the toughest game left.”  i think the team bought into a bit.  even coach, beilein just goes on and on about northwestern…

    i love zack and stu, and have been arguing to my family that they deserve to get their jerseys hung.  but they sucked tonight.  and they are the leaders of a team that sucked tonight.  they really looked like they just expected to win because it was senior night.

    that said, i love them both, i love this team, and i think they can still make a huge run.  i think they can still go down as one of the great M teams of all time…but i hope they use this loss the right way.

    • ForeverBlue

      I didn’t think Stu sucked tonight, at least in the first half.  I’m really disappointed that Hardaway, Morgan and Trey didn’t seem to have the kind of intensity their seniors, at their last home game, deserved.   

      • ChathaM

        I agree. Douglass played a solid game. His first half was outstanding.

    • Wayman Britt

      GP – I hope I am misunderstanding your phrase “they deserve to get their jerseys hung”  You don’t actually mean that UM should retire Zack and Stu’s number like they have with Cazzie, Rudy and Glen, do you??

      • Mattski

        Some people here have been arguing for that, but much as I love the two players, last night may have shown why it’s not going to happen. M is a winning team since they arrived, and there’s no question their contribution is huge. But I think that if you look back over decades of bball you’d find lots of less-sung heroes like them. Beilein will find other ways to see they’re remembered.

    • JimC

      Well, truth be told, yes they did kind of suck. 

  • dustindbo

    Did anyone else find Beilein subbing Josh Bartelstein into the game before Corey Person really disrespectful? It’s Senior night and your going to put a junior in the game before Corey Person, a senior playing in his last game at home. I know Corey got into the game shortly after bartelstein, and scored 4 points but just the principle of a younger player playing before a senior on senior night irks me.

    • He subbed in Bartelstein and Christian to sub out Douglass and Novak individually and then sub Corey Person in individually.

    • MGoTweeter

      exactly as Dylan said.  Beilein just wanted to make sure each of the seniors had his own moment at the end.  

  • Quaint06

    I’d be interested to know the team’s record when attempting less than 15 3 pointers vs. more. I realize that a poor record when attempting a lot of 3’s doesn’t necessarily mean that attempting the 3s is what *caused* the loss–if we get down big we attempt a lot of 3s to get back–but there still seems to be a correlation.

    • JimC

      I would run a SQL query for you, but don’t have the time.

    • rlcBlue

      3-0 when attempting less than 15
      17-8 when attempting more than 15
      1-0 when attempting exactly 15

      All the numbers are available here.

      • Quaint06

        Thanks for the info. One of the wins with less than 15 was against Ohio St.

  • chitownblue

    Smotrycz really has the tools to be a matchup nightmare offensively – he’s effective enough in the post to punish smaller players, good enough with the ball to take bigger guys off the dribble, and a good enough shooter to make big guys uncomfortable kn the perimeter.

    I hope he can put it all together.

    • JimC

      i was digging ur comment until the word “nightmare”.   I don’t think he can really abuse defenses like a Jarod Sullenger, or other classic 4s.

  • MGoTweeter

    I dont know if this was discussed during the game, but I did not like the defensive match-ups that Michigan used.  Specifically, putting Burke on Jackson.  This was an issue in the first game against Purdue and I thought that Beilein had gone to Douglass by the end of the game for the most part.  However, yesterday it was Burke the whole way and while he did not get beat clean as much, it was clear he could not stay in front of him without help.  Not only does Burke really struggle to stay in front of Jackson, but I believe it also hurts him on offense by wearing him down.  

    With the way that Purdue plays defense (and honestly the refs helped them a great deal with the way the game was called), Burke needs to be fresh and ready to go.  He wasn’t, and the offense just seemed to fall apart on most possessions.

    The whole lack of energy on the team yesterday was tough to watch.  Really wish the students were there to maybe help pick them up, but the students are not going to be there for any of the remaining games and this team needs to keep self-motivated.

    • ChathaM

      I agree that the game was called in a way that favoured Purdue. Michigan is clearly taught to stay away from foul trouble. Purdue, meanwhile, played clutch-and-grab defence against Miichigan cutters, and there was a lot of contact up high on the ballscreen hedges that was incorrectly ruled incidental. I’m not sure that UM wins this game anyway, but that didn’t help.

  • ChathaM

    Purdue was great. They ran their offence very efficiently, especially in the first half. Their first half performance reminded me of what we’re used to seeing from UM; not turning the ball over, and taking a couple of charges. I wouldn’t be surpsied if it was the best game they’ve played all season. Impressive, and I have to think they’re now a lock for the NCAAs.

    The Senior Night pre-game ceremonies were outstanding.

    I think I got a little insight into whether Hardaway’s shooting issues are more mental or physical. We got there very early, so we watched the team’s pre-game shoot. Hardaway made between 80-90% of his 3’s from various points on the left side of the floor. He was close to automatic, with what looked like excellent mechanics and solid rotation. During the game, we saw the results (including two airballs). It’s mental.

    I’m really hoping that UM can hang onto the 3 seed for the BTT, as I was able to get tickets to the Friday night session in Indy, which will see both the 2 and 3 seeds playing.

    • jemblue

      We only need to win once more to clinch the #3 seed in the BTT.  That should be attainable.

      • rlcBlue

        One Michigan win or one Wisconsin loss; the best Indiana or Purdue could do is tie us, and we hold tiebreak advantages over both of them. It’s not just attainable, it’s virtually inevitable.

  • rlcBlue

    Lunardi’s latest update still has us a #3 seed (#12 on the S-curve).

  • JimC

    do we want IN or MN to win here?

    • Alex

      Can make a case for both sides but we played Indiana twice so I would pick them. Minnesota isn’t going to make top 50 RPI so it doesn’t matter. Don’t want them to fall out of 100 but I don’t think they will.

      Speaking of which we have a 9-6 record against the top 50. Pretty impressive.

  • jemblue

    Is Tubby Smith on the hot seat at Minn?  I know Mbakwe’s injured, but this is the second year in a row they’ve completely collapsed down the stretch.

  • Michigan4

    As much as I love this team, it is almost infuriating to watch at times.  We have several solid to good shooters, but they all seem to pull the trigger too quickly.  Novak and Stu are players I will never forget, but I cannot lie, I am excited to have a few players come in next year that have styles of play which are more than just spot up shooting.  70 attempted three’s over the last two games is absurd.  I hate when national analyists say Michigan lives and dies by the three, but in our last two games that has been almost our entire offense.  I agree with what most are saying in that we played like we just expected to win.