Second half mistakes doom Michigan at Purdue

Alejandro Zúñiga

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Saturday afternoon, the Michigan basketball team put on a clinic of how not to win a basketball game on the road.

After Zak Irvin made a tough jumper 45 seconds into the second half, the Wolverines went nearly 13 minutes without a field goal, missing 13 consecutive shots in the process. They finished the period with a 23 eFG%.

Caris LeVert finally broke the drought with less than seven minutes to play, pulling his team to within four. But Purdue scored the next 11 points en route to a 64-51 win that left John Beilein disappointed with several facets of Michigan’s performance.

“I thought we were in a great position if, in the second half, we go and make some shots and defend and rebound,” the coach said. “Second half, none of that happened. We did not make shots; we did not defend the way we defend; and we certainly didn’t rebound the way you could.

“That’s what you get. You get what you deserve. And we deserve to have a second half to lose the game. You gotta make shots; you gotta rebound; you gotta defend.”

The statistics alone say Michigan did very little of that in the second half. The Wolverines went 4-of-22 from the field, including 2-of-9 from three. By field-goal percentage, Saturday was the sixth-best defensive half of basketball Purdue has ever played.

And the Wolverines did very little to change the game when their shots weren’t falling. The Boilermakers rebounded every Michigan miss in the second half and grabbed five offensive boards. Purdue also shot 11-of-22 from the floor in the final 20 minutes and scored 14 points in the paint.

“They definitely went in and made some adjustments at halftime, kinda got into us a little bit,” said guard Spike Albrecht.

The effects of that were apparent immediately. On the first possession of the second half, Purdue nabbed an offensive rebound and putback layup. In another telling sequence four minutes later, the Boilermakers grabbed two offensive boards before Kendall Stephens buried a three-pointer that tied the game.

Purdue took the lead for good less than 30 seconds later.

“When you go on the road … you really gotta buckle down and execute,” Albrecht said. “We can’t let our offense, if we’re not hitting shots, trickle down to the defense.”

And it’s not as if Michigan didn’t have opportunities to maintain or extend their lead early in the second half. Isaac Haas, the Boilermakers’ talented freshman center and go-to player, committed his third foul just 4:30 after the break. He finished the game scoreless in nine minutes and grabbed only one rebound. But with Haas neutralized, Purdue turned to A.J. Hammons, who picked up the slack with eight points and nine rebounds in the second half.

“We had to mark him, we had to get him off the boards, and we didn’t,” Beilein said.

And Irvin, who was one of the few Michigan players who consistently attacked the rim, struggled to finish when he got there. He missed several layups, including a pair of would-be routine finishes during the long scoreless streak.

“We missed some easy shots, missed some layups,” LeVert said.

The result was one of Michigan’s poorest halves of the season and a demoralizing loss in what seemed like a winnable game at the break. It was a deserved defeat, too — and Beilein knew it.

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  • John

    This one may define the season. This is really the last “bed-crapping” this team can have or it is time to start thinking NIT. I think the effort is there but they play with fried nerves. There is absolutely no confidence that they can make the plays down the stretch, especially on the road. They need ALL winnable road games from this point on to earn a place at the table.