Game 20: Purdue at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan vs Purdue_4
Scott Mapes

Michigan 75, Purdue 66. Photo Gallery. Beilein presser. Player videos. Painter presser. Box score.

Michigan picked up its tenth win in ten tries on Thursday night with a routine victory over Purdue.

The Wolverines were clearly the better team, but never really quite rounded into gear. Despite Michigan committing a multitude of uncharacteristic turnovers, the Boilermakers didn’t have the determination, consistency or ability to provide a legitimate test. The nine point Michigan victory wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, but it wasn’t cause for celebration either.

The Wolverines gave the ball away on a quarter of their possessions, but were nearly unstoppable when they managed to hold onto the ball. Michigan shot 63% on twos and 54% on threes and kept Purdue at arm’s length throughout the night.

Caris LeVert led the way with his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and he was joined in double figures by Derrick Walton, Nik Stauskas and Jordan Morgan.


Michigan managed to score 1.13 points per possession despite all of its turnover woes. Purdue forced the Wolverines out of their comfort zone a bit offensively with over-aggressive extended pressure. That led to the turnovers and also lower assist numbers. Just 10 of Michigan’s 28 baskets were assisted because the extended defense left a number of driving lanes for Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas. It also led to a lot of wide open looks, free throw attempts, back door cuts and easy shots at the rim.

Purdue’s lack of shooting ability on offense was blatantly obvious. This was actually Purdue’s best offensive performance in the last four games at 1 point per possession. Michigan’s defensive rebounding performance was a bit disappointing, but that’s the one thing that Purdue does very well. The Boilermakers rebounded 40% of their misses and scored 19 second chance points. The Wolverines were beaten off the dribble badly a couple times early in the game, but for the most part were able to shore up those issues for long stretches.

While the middle of the Big Ten is nearly impossible to sort out, the top is clear. Michigan leads the way with Michigan State and Iowa on its heels. The Wolverines have another difficult hurdle ahead this weekend, traveling to Assembly Hall to try to knock off the Hoosiers.

Michigan vs Purdue_21
Scott Mapes

Player Bullets:

  • Derrick Walton: Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Walton had a couple ugly turnovers. Now the good news, he’s starting to relax and just play ball. Earlier in the year he was too worried about making a mistake to make plays. Now, Walton is looking to make plays and he’s succeeding more often than not. Walton knocked down a corner three, hit a mid-range pull-up, scored coast to coast at the half time break, knocked down a three when his defender went under a screen and had a beautiful assist to Jordan Morgan for a dunk. 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, 3 assists, three rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes caps off a great week for Walton.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert was as involved in this game as any other game season — on both ends of the floor. He had the ball in his hands a lot as he helped Walton handle Purdue’s ball pressure. LeVert didn’t have the most efficient offensive game (5-of-11 shooting with 4 turnovers), but he was aggressive and continued to probe for weak spots in the Purdue defense (he also rebounded two of his misses) when no one else seemed to command the ball. But LeVert really shined on the defensive end. He was Michigan’s best defender by a wide margin: tallying 9 defensive rebounds, three steals and two blocks. LeVert broke up three fast breaks (at least the first efforts) and was everywhere in Michigan’s defense. He did have his fair share of turnovers – many of which were because he’s starting to see passes but is just a second late with the delivery.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas finished with 16 points on 5-of-10 (1-3 3pt) shooting with 3 assists, 4 turnovers and 3 blocks. He scored in the usual ways: fast break three, dribble hand-off, baseline drive, back door dunk. He really excelled playing along the baseline behind Purdue’s over aggressive defense. This is the sort of performance that feels average given his ridiculous outings lately, but would be very impressive for just about anyone else.
  • Jordan Morgan: Despite his flaws, AJ Hammons is still very difficult to score over or around, and Morgan had a few difficulties, but was generally effective in finishing with 11 points (4-of-6 fg), 6 rebounds and three turnovers. Morgan’s most impressive finish was a little fall away jumper after catching the ball on the screen and roll.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson scored a quiet 8 points on 3-of-6 (1-3 3pt) shooting in 36 minutes. He finally saw a three go down, made a nice little face up drive and jumper, and knocked down a difficult layup in transition. I wrote in the preview that Basil Smotherman was a good defender, but for whatever reason Robinson just never found a groove.
  • Jon Horford: Horford had a great pass to Robinson for a corner three (passing up a 16-foot jumper) and also had a very impressive post move over the Purdue defense, he also had a big tip slam in the first half.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht had a very rough shift in the first half, but bounced back in a nice way in the second half. He checked in and broke Purdue’s pressure for a layup and then knocked down a three. He also shored things up defensively in the second half as Purdue was insistent upon shooting jumpers over him rather than attacking him.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin’s hitting a bit of a freshman skid, but he knocked down a huge three midway through the second half after Purdue had cut the lead to eight points.
  • kam

    Sooooooo who’s been the 2nd best player this year for UM. Honest question. Nik is the clear 1, but what about glenn? He wasn’t playing well to start.. He had a nice little stretch in the middle and now he’s struggling again.. And I’m glad walton is playing really well. Seeing caris get 11 rebounds with his skinny frame is nice. Also games like this show is potential on defense.. Irvin, man he isn’t shy! Spike made some nice plays. Sloppy win, but its better than what happened to OSU or Wisky. GO BLUE

    • DingoBlue

      Even if/when Nik declares, a back court of Caris and Walton is very promising down the line. The main thing will be getting some good bigs who can rebound and have good hands.

      • AADave

        Don’t forget about Spike!

        And I think even if Nik is gone (hope not but probably), we have plenty of talent from the 3-5 spots with Levert, Walton, Spike, Irvin and Chatman. Horford will be a great starting center. He’s improved in all facets and now is even an offensive threat with some great post moves. We just need Donnal (who’s making great use of his redshirt year in the weight room per Beilein), Doyle and DJ Wilson to step and contribute inside. I know Doyle and/or DJ Wilson might redshirt but we might need them for depth. Bielfeldt adds some depth but he seems a bit short to be the best inside defender and is limited offensively.

    • ChathaM

      2nd best, or 2nd most important, is tough to peg. I think you could make a legit case for Caris, Robinson, or Morgan. I’d probably say Caris, but the 3 bring such different things to the table that it’s tough to choose just one.

  • Mattski

    I’m still feeling like this team’s ceiling remains considerably higher; eager to see if Beilein looks for a game to get GRIII more in the mix. With Caris, Nik, and Walton increasingly capable of running the offense, Robinson is almost bound to get lost in there sometimes. But these guys are close to my dream of a Beilein team that can hurt you from anywhere on the floor at any time. And while we’re still vulnerable in the lane, GRIII, Walton, Morgan, and Caris are all capable of really good defense. . .

    Thanks for the write-up; I’m already looking forward to Sunday.

    • Mattski

      BTW, did I read that graphic correctly near the end of the game last night–do we have the hardest remaining schedule left in the country? That would be nuts, after the stretch we just went through! Is ours the country’s toughest schedule, period?

      • Didn’t see the graphic.The stretch of at Iowa, at OSU, Wisc, MSU is tough, but I’m not sure it’s the toughest in the country.

        Part of that might be because the Big Ten is rated so highly, that all the Big Ten teams have the most difficult stretches of schedule left.

      • Kenny

        I saw the same thing, in terms of the winning percentage of the opponents, we have the toughest remaining schedule.

      • sshow

        Yeah, I saw that too. Hard to believe myself.

    • Richmond_Eric

      Thoroughly enjoying watching this team! I was just amazed at the shooting proficiency last night. Take out a couple of forced shots (at least one by Caris stands out), and it would be even higher. How pretty was Morgan’s little bank shot at the beginning of second half? It is great to see Spike come in and hit one of his patented 3 pointers! Horford’s post move that got everyone on the bench going (see McGary’s
      smile after that one?).

      The turnovers were tough to watch but every team will have games like that (maybe even more than one). I am waiting to see Zak’s moves to the hoop. I have to think he is just playing within the system and doing as instructed. I watched his turnover in the first half and thought to myself why didn’t he fake and drive to hoop? He must be a complete player to win Indiana Mr. Basketball. I look forward to watching him (and everyone else) develop under the tutelage of this coaching staff.

      Anyway, great fun so far this year and looking forward to continued success in BIG season, tourney, and I believe we will be poised to make a run in NCAA.

  • ChathaM

    I agree that Caris was excellent defensively. He seems to be getting a better feel for cutting off driving angles in one-on-one situations, as there were a couple of times last night where his check tried to beat him off the dribble, but couldn’t. I’ll be curious to see whether the defensive report card bears that perception out.
    Morgan has to be one of the best post defenders in the country. He’s most fun to watch when his post check will only turn one way to try and score (like Derrick Nix last year), because he will simply not allow it to happen. Even last night, with Hammons being willing to turn in either direction, Morgan was able to force him into difficult looks. His understanding of angles is amazing. From the sounds of it, Morgan has a bright future in whatever field he chooses, but I’ll bet he’d be a great assistant coach at a high level.
    Painter’s comment re: wishing he knew who to play makes complete sense after watching that game. They don’t seem to have many natural scorers on the roster, so it comes down to consistent effort. It would be a tough team to coach.
    I like to think that all of the talk re: the quality depth of the Big Ten is accurate, but I’m starting to wonder. This was a middle of the pack Purdue team, and they really aren’t very good. Is this a very good, deep Big Ten? Or, is this a clear top 3, along with 9 mediocre teams? I’m not sure.

    • brooklyn_guy

      To me, it seems like the worst teams in the B1G aren’t as bad as in years past while the middle of the league is struggling more than it typically has. I feel this way because of (a) there aren’t really any RPI anchors like there were the past couple of years, and (b) the lower-tier teams are capable of beating the Wisconsins and Ohio States where they weren’t before. This is a reflection of the bad teams getting better and teams like Wisconsin and OSU getting worse, at least for this year.

      I feel that the top of the conference (UM and MSU, at least) is as good as it’s been the past few years, but the number of teams in that tier has dropped off. Last year, for instance, MSU, UM, IU, OSU, and Wisconsin were really good and could reasonably be expected to make tourney runs. This year, it’s hard to see anyone other than UM, MSU, and maybe Iowa making it very far unless OSU and Wisky get it together.

  • Champswest

    I am glad that we got this performance out of our system against Purdue at home and, hopefully, not at Indiana.

    Dylan, I know that you have a lot on your plate, but I was wondering if you are planning a mid-way season review for next week (like your picks for all conference, all freshman team, B1G POY, etc.). If not, we could do it in the forum.

  • Indiana_Matt

    Perhaps it is not such a worrisome thing to drop some games early on as we did this year. With a coach like ours, and the way he can teach so effectively off of a loss maybe we (the fans) can afford to relax more next November and December and exhibit the confidence the team seems to :)

  • umnyc

    I had a feeling we were going to come out flat for this game, and we certainly did. Probably the most unexciting win I’ve seen in a while. But this is a game we would have lost in the past… I think its a great sign that we managed to cruise thru without putting in our best effort. Hopefully its out of our system because playing at IU is always tough.

  • Chris De Sana

    I just do not understand GR3, he rarely demands the ball. His mid range game could be such an asset if he were to just ask for the ball and a screen now and then. Not only has he proven he can hit that shot but it would also open up so many more things for the others especially dump offs to our bigs when help defense comes his way.

    Other than that it is great to see Walton’s growth, adding a mid range jumper is huge.

    Hopefully Zak has a big game against Indiana!!!!!