Game 19: Purdue at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 68, Purdue 53-24
Dustin Johnston

MICH 68 1.17 27-55 49% 20-39 51% 7-16 44% 7-10 70% 12 23 11 10 6 5 9
PU 53 .91 21-54 39% 14-32 44% 7-22 32% 4-7 57% 11 18 12 12 2 3 14

Purdue took the floor in Ann Arbor and did just about everything correctly for 20 minutes. Matt Painter couldn’t have asked for much more from his young and inexperienced team playing on the road against the nation’s No. 2 – perhaps soon to be No. 1 – team. The Boilermakers shot the lights out from three point range, forced Michigan turnovers and appeared to be out hustling the more highly regarded Wolverines. In spite of playing to its potential, one could argue well beyond, Purdue led by just one point at the half time buzzer. That lead would never be enough and Boilermakers’ fate was sealed.

Inevitable regression toward the mean set in during the second half and the Wolverines steadily pulled away. The hot three point shooting evaporated (Purdue didn’t make a second half three) and the result was all but determined midway through the second half. Michigan didn’t play its best game and it didn’t play its worst. After 19 games it’s clear that an average performance from the Wolverines is more than enough to beat most opponents – especially within the friendly confines of Crisler Center.

Purdue deserves credit for slowing things down and limiting the game to just 58 possessions. Michigan did find a few easy buckets in transition but those were usually followed by a Matt Painter timeout and verbal sideline lashing. Michigan’s offense didn’t struggle by any means but still wasn’t its most efficient self. The Wolverines checked in at 1.17 points per possession which is just a few marks short of their league leading average Big Ten offensive output of 1.20 points per trip.

Michigan shot the ball well – 51% on twos and 44% on threes – and dominated the offensive glass to top things off. The Wolverines grabbed 40 percent of their missed shots and scored 13 second chance points. Michigan would be a pretty good team with its offensive weapons alone but it’s becoming clear that the Wolverines are a legitimate offensive rebounding team. With the number of shooters and finishers scattered across the floor, surrendering offensive rebounds to John Beilein’s team continues to be something like throwing gasoline on the fire.

There are probably a handful of things that you could nitpick from Michigan’s offensive performance. Maybe the uncharacteristic first half turnovers or an off shooting night by Trey Burke, but doing so would be a bit foolish. This was still a great offensive performance despite those nitpicks and the Wolverines per possession output was still worlds (by .07 points per trip) above the average output of the league’s second best offense.

For one of the first times this season, a Michigan win had more to do with defense than offense. The Wolverines’ first half defensive effort was nothing short of wretched. Purdue shot 54% on threes, rebounded 36 percent of its misses and seemed to score at will. Michigan addressed those issues and then some in the locker room at halftime and then managed to shut down the Boilermakers.

Poss. Michigan PPP Purdue PPP
1st 28 1.14 1.18
2nd 30 1.20 0.67
Game 58 1.17 0.91

Purdue is far from a great offensive team but it was nice to see the Wolverines make adjustments and lock down defensively.

The math gods certainly cackled at Purdue’s 0-of-9 second half three point shooting as it brought Boilermakers numbers to 7-of-21 from long range or 31.8% for the game – two tenths of a percentage away from their season average. Ken Pomeroy has clearly articulated the randomness of three point defense but there were still notable improvements to the Michigan defensive effort beyond the missed threes.

The most notable improvement was on the defensive glass where the Wolverines rebounded 76% of Purdue’s misses in the second compared to just 59% in the first. Michigan also snatched twice as many steals, not only forcing more turnovers but converting them into 11 second half points off of turnovers compared to just two in the first.

It might not have been as gaudy as some of Michigan’s early league wins but it was another solid and comfortable victory. A 15 point win in a 58 possession game is far from a shabby victory. Michigan’s first five Big Ten wins have come by an average margin of 18.8 points per game, a year ago when the Wolverines shared the conference crown just two of their 12 wins were by more than 12 points. Next up is a trip road trip to face a struggling Illinois squad that has lost five of its last eight games. Win on Sunday night and Michigan is likely to secure its first No. 1 ranking in over 20 years.

Michigan 68, Purdue 53-23
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: Burke started the game pretty hot but struggled to finish as the game wore on – he was still the catalyst of the Michigan offense tallying 15 points and eight assists to just one turnover. Despite struggling from the floor, Burke dictated the game and was clinical while distributing off of the pick and roll. He had a pair of great assists via the ball screen to ice the game away late, first a kick to Stauskas and then a great drop off to McGary.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway has never been one to hide his emotions and right now his confidence is oozing. On both ends of the floor Hardaway is playing with a purpose and it’s paying off. He knocked down his first two threes and never looked back finishing with 13 points on 5-of-9 (3-5 3pt) shooting. He was also a game changer on the defensive end of the floor as well, drawing two charges, blocking two shots and coming away with a steal.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas hit his first three from the corner and finished 2-of-4 from long range. I can live with his three turnovers. He still has a bit too much flair in his game but he’s usually trying to make the proper pass when he does turn it over. Michigan seemed to run a lot more curl action from the wing to Stauskas and he was effective, scoring and also throwing a great bounce pass to McGary who went up to get fouled.
  • Glenn Robinson III: 12 points and nine rebounds on 4-of-6 (2-3 3pt) shooting with an assist is about as efficient of a night as you can draw up. Robinson did a bit of everything, dominating the glass, throwing down a thunderous dunk in the first half and hitting a pair of backbreaking threes in the second. It’s also easy to be efficient when you can score like this:

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan only played 14 minutes (to McGary’s 21) but was still productive on the court, scoring six points (on 3-of-6 fg) and grabbing five rebounds. He missed a pair of easy looks with his back to the basket (not doing much to disprove the theory that post touches don’t help the offense) but did have a nice drive on Hammons and a strong tap in.
  • Mitch McGary: One way or another, McGary is going to bring energy to the game. There seem to be too many “McGary plays” to count on any given night. Here are a few that stood out tonight:
    1. Rebounding a missed U-M free throw (even if he missed the put back).
    2. Getting blocked twice on the offensive end before running down and taking a charge on the defensive end of the floor.
    3. Tipping away a steal at midcourt and drawing a foul before waving his arms and firing up the crowd.
  • Sure there’s still room to refine his game (across the board) but right now he seems to provide a spark whenever he steps on the floor. Plays like his drive from the perimeter against AJ Hammons also remind us that there’s still a whole level of his game he’s yet to tap into.
  • Jon Horford: It’s great to see Horford back on the floor and he was solid in his eight minutes, grabbing three rebounds and scoring a basket. He still looks like a guy still ramping back up to speed but he’s a very solid third big.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert’s night was a mixed bag as he connected on a pretty floater in the lane early but missed a similar shot in the second half. He looked just a bit hesitant catching the ball on the perimeter a couple of times leading to a turnover and a couple missed opportunities.
  • Spike Albrecht: Similar to LeVert, Albrecht had a quiet night with a missed shot, assist and a turnover on a charge after over penetrating.
  • ChathaM

    Burke’s two key assists mentioned above were my favourite possessions of the game, and they illustrated perfectly how difficult it is to guard this team. The sequence happened right after Purdue had cut the lead to 5. On the first possession, Byrd helped off of Stauskas as Burke used McGary’s screen and drove into the lane. Burke hit Stauskas for the open 3 to make it an 8 point game. On the next possession, Byrd didn’t even think about helping off of Stauskas again, which left the ball-screener, McGary, open on the dump off from Burke in the lane. I thought Burke did a masterful job of reading the help all night, but these two plays were the best, mainly because they came on back-to-back possessions after a seemingly comfortable lead had been cut to 5.

    I thought that Beilein might go to some zone in the second half, especially when it was so obvious that Purdue was trying to isolate Stauskas on defence whenever possible. But, I’m guessing that he realized how limited Purdue truly is offensively, and stuck with man defence despite the hot-shooting first half. Sure enough, shots stopped falling. Smart.

    I really hope that Horford can stay healthy. I love his energy and the relative quickness of his feet, and I think he can be a major factor throughout the rest of the season.

    I was able to attend the game, and was surprised at the number of empty seats in the lower level. I know that all of the seats are sold. Does anyone have any insight re: why there were empties scattered throughout the arena?

    • NewBlue

      The lower level is never full. I have been to every game this year, in the upper level behind the visiting bench so I get a good look at the lower bowl behind the announcers. For most games it looks as if there are 20-25% empty chairs in those sections. I guess the people who can afford the seat fees are more concerned with having tickets to the premium games than with seeing that their tickets are used. On a related note, I have a good friend who went to grad school at Duke and reports that one year when early games were not well attended, Coach K publicly called out ticket holders for not showing up or making sure their seats were filled. It is reported to have been effective.

      • a2sk

        It’s a shame. The required seat donation for those seats has forced many serious long time fans to the upper bowl. Meanwhile, I suspect that many of the lower bowl tickets are being bought by folks who just want to go to a few big games, or bought them to give to clients, etc. This is my 23rd year with season tickets. I attend almost every game – even exhibitions – and I make sure my tickets get used when I can’t go. But between the seat “donation” and increased ticket prices, my upper bowl seats will have doubled in cost between last season and next. I’ll be watching on TV next year.

        • A2JD

          Thanks to Pizza Boy Brand-on. He’s done a couple of good things but he puts the dollar above tradition and the fans.

        • JeremyS

          That is a darn shame about Michigan pricing you out of season tickets. I was at the game also and they showed the video of their “vision” of the new Michigan athletic complex. It was absolutely stunning. And all I kept thinking was how I am paying for this and do they really need all of this. I think next year is my last year for football tickets. The prices are outrageous. I think the improvements are way too excessive.

  • DingoBlue

    While this win wasn’t as giggle-inducing as something like the Iowa win, it’s still a relatively hard-fought win on the home court. A 15 point win over a B1G mid-tier team seems disappointing on first glance (hahah last year), but looking at the difference between the first and second half, I have to say I have utmost confidence in half-time adjustments.

  • Bluebufoon

    Defense has to greatly improve or we are going to be very disappointed come Tournament time.

  • DB

    I could have sworn Stauskas had some assists. He seemed to be passing pretty well off of his drives. I know he would have had one on the McGary was fouled on his dunk attempt (there really should be a way to record those as assists).

  • Brad S

    Agree with what you said about Caris, he looked a little hesitant to shoot the ball in the second half after that air ball.

    I love watching McGary play. It may not always show up in the stat sheet, but there’s no denying the energy he brings out there

    • A2JD

      Crash McGary is a force of nature.

  • Mandingo

    Solid win overall. I think it demonstrated some things we already knew, i.e. Beilein is a great in-game coach, and Michigan has some issues defending on the perimeter. That latter point concerns me for the Tournament. KenPom’s point about the randomness of 3 point shots is well taken, but while shot success is itself relatively random, defenses do have influence on whether those shots are taken in the first place. I think UM can win the B1G as-is, because over the course of the entire season it has the talent to overcome a semi-random loss or two to teams that heat up from 3. But Michigan does seem like it could be vulnerable to an upset in the mid-rounds of the NCAAs by a talented mid-seed with decent defense and good outside shooting. Michigan’s defense isn’t bad at all, it’s just that the its main weakness is exactly where you don’t want to be weak in a 6 stage single elimination basketball tournament. On the other hand, if Michigan happens to heat up from 3 in one of those games, I don’t see anyone in the country staying with them, so hopefully the basketball gods will look kindly on the Wolverines come the post season.

    • section13row15

      I noticed our D colapses a lot when the ball comes into the lane and the weak side perimeter is always open. Hardaway still leaves his man on the perimeter quite often to help and it hurt us a couple times. On another note, I couldn’t help thinking the entire game how stupid Matt Painter looked when 2 Indiana boys from his backyard were posterizing his team!

      • A2JD

        I’m sure he’ll enjoy Zak Irvin next year as well.

  • JeremyS

    Excellent analysis of the game.

    I completely agree that Michigan’s 1st half defense was wretched. There was no hustle or effort. But what a difference the half time speech must have made. Michigan had a tremendous defensive effort in the 2nd half, and it was the difference in the game. Burke was all over his man, attempting steal after steal. Outstanding 2nd half by the young man.

    And McGary made such a huge difference in the game, but the stat line didn’t show it. If it wasn’t for him, it may have been a different outcome. He is the definition of hustle. That kid should be tested for drugs because no person can have that much energy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see McGary jump into the stands when he is on the bench and join in the cheering and dancing with the Maize Rage.

    Also, I wish Michigan’s big men could finish. Every miss by Morgan or McGary resulted in being pulled from the game. So Beilien is addressing it. But these are bunny shots and they need to be made.

  • gobluemd16

    What did you guys think of the fans watching on TV and in the stadium as well. I am a student and also noticed about 10-15% of lower bowl seats being empty, but I would like to hear about what you thought of the student section? I know it is totally full now, but I feel like the energy isn’t always there, especially being the #2 team in the country.

    • also has to factor in that at any game I’ve ever been to, there’s at least 5% of the crowd on the concourse at any given point in the game.

    • ChathaM

      I really enjoyed watching the student sections. There were several points in the game where the students were completely into it while the rest of the crowd was silent. That’s a complement to the students rather than a rip at the rest of the crowd, of which I was one. I’m not a vocal fan, but I’m as mentally into the game as anyone. I just appreciate the vocal, energetic nature of the students. I look forward to the “routines” that I know will come at certain points. The Teletubbies and Sesame Streeters are an added bonus. Very entertaining.

  • mikey_mac

    I wondered on this blog about a month ago if McGary would pass Morgan in minutes. The past few games, it’s clear to me that McGary should receive the majority, and finally did last night. He’s riveting to watch. But good god, make a free throw once in a while.

  • CDesana

    A few points worthy of discussion:

    – THjr’s all around game continues to improve (balls skills, defense and getting to the rim) and hope he stays his senior year to truly become the best player he can be at the next level.

    – Love to see more of Nik, THjr and GRIII all coming off those curl screens because I think they will lead to more open 3’s and baseline cuts leading to easy buckets.

    – I feel we have to keep feeding the post even if they are not converted. This can also help free up open 3’s on the kick out. It can help reset the offense and again our big men are pretty good passer so could lead to baseline cuts for easy buckets.

    We need to keep developing a more diverse offense (I know I know it sounds odd for a team that scores at the rate we do) as Duke’s latest loss proves there has to be another option when the outside shot is not falling and that is why I love the fact that both Nik and THjr are getting more aggressive on dribble drives now only hope GRIII continues to work hard at creating his own offense.

    Last but not least I hope we continue to experiment with a multiple big line up and others filling at the point now and then to help stop Trey from running out of gas. For example I would like to see more of Nik running the point now and then with Trey in the game, same with THjr and Caris. If anyone out there remembers when the Pistons were winning Championships that is exactly what Chuck did at times with the 3 headed monster that was Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and the Vinne “The Microwave” Johnson.