Five Key Plays: Michigan at Purdue

Alejandro Zúñiga
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Michigan suffered its first first Big Ten loss on Saturday as it let a modest halftime lead turn into a double-digit defeat at Purdue. For a closer look at what went wrong, check out our Five Key Plays from the loss.

1) Bielfeldt draws offensive foul, technical

The Wolverines knew they’d need to neutralize Isaac Haas, the Boilermakers’ 7-foot-2, 300-pound center. And thanks to an unlikely performance, they did.

Max Bielfeldt — listed generously as 6-foot-7 — made one of the biggest plays in the first half that sent Haas to the bench. Unable to get into a rhythm, the freshman finished with zero points and four turnovers in nine minutes.

As Purdue worked the ball around the perimeter, Bielfeldt and Haas engaged in a physical battle down low. When Haas received the ball, an immediate double team from Derrick Walton forced the ball back outside. Haas then stepped strongly into the Michigan center, raking his elbow across Bielfeldt’s face. The result was an offensive foul — Haas’ second personal — and a technical foul on Matt Painter.

Caris LeVert made both free throws and Bielfeldt drained a three-pointer about a minute later, and the Wolverines didn’t trail again in the first half.

2) Spike Albrecht threes extend first half lead

John Beilein stressed last week that guard play would be key to winning conference road games. And while Derrick Walton again struggled — he tallied eight points on 2-for-9 shooting — Spike Albrecht delivered a more efficient performance, finishing with 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep.

His biggest sequence came at the end of the first half, when he made a pair of three-pointers on consecutive possessions and hit another right before the buzzer.

The first trey was a pull-up shot over Dakota Mathias, who probably didn’t expect the guard to shoot from so far beyond the arc. The next bucket was just as bold — Albrecht took the ball down the court and simply pulled up from the top of the key. Both were tough shots we’ve seen Albrecht hit before, but not lately; he hadn’t made more than one field goal in a game since NJIT.

Albrecht’s final three-pointer of the half was created via a ball screen set by Ricky Doyle on Jon Octeus. That gave Albrecht a moment of space, and he used it to hit from deep — over A.J. Hammons, no less — and give Michigan an eight-point halftime lead.

3) Offensive rebounds, Stephens three tie game

The Wolverines didn’t defend well, rebound well or hit routine shots in the second half, which is why Beilein said they “deserved” the loss. This sequence, five minutes after the break, is a telling one.

Michigan is in a 2-3 zone and ends up giving up a clean three-point look to Octeus in the corner. Octeus missed, but then Purdue played volleyball on the offensive glass. First, Vince Edwards got an easy rebound as neither Caris LeVert nor Derrick Walton boxed him out. After Edwards misses the follow up, AJ Hammons knocked the ball out of Doyle’s hands for a second Purdue offensive rebound.

The multiple offensive rebounds left Michigan in a scramble situation and those often times result in open threes for the wrong guy. In this case, that was Kendall Stephens. The Boilermakers got the ball to Stephens at the top of the key, and he buried the open three to tie the game at 36. Purdue never trailed again.

4) Irvin misses layup, Hammons and-one

Michigan played good defense at the beginning of this sequence, as Mark Donnal forced a wild shot from Ocetus. But in transition, things fell apart for the Wolverines.

Irvin travelled the length of the court and, on a four-on-two, attacked the basket instead of dishing for an open three at either wing. That wasn’t necessarily a bad move, except he missed the layup, and Donnal was too slow on a would-be putback slam.

On the other side of the court, Purdue isolated Hammons inside against Donnal, and the Boilermaker buried a hook shot while drawing a foul — and then hit the free throw — to pad their lead.

Instead of reclaiming the lead, Michigan fell behind further, a five-point swing that energized the Mackey Arena crowd.

5) Shot clock violation leads to three-point dagger

There aren’t many times a three-pointer with five minutes to play is considered a dagger, but this sure felt like it.

The Wolverines began the sequence by throwing away a possession on a shot-clock violation. After an inbound pass, Walton appears to have very little recognition of the shot clock and attempts to use a few ball screens before passing the ball to Caris LeVert with five seconds remaining on the shot clock. Like Walton, LeVert was apparently unaware of the time situation and weaved his way into the lane as time expired.

After the turnover, Stephens made a good cut across the middle of the zone before flashing open on the wing. Upon receiving the ball, Stephens could have dished to the corner for an open three there, but he had enough space to take the shot himself, and he buried it to put Purdue up nine.

Michigan didn’t make a field goal until more than three minutes later and fell behind by double-digits.

  • Bigrange

    Plenty of mishaps in the 2nd half. It was frustrating watching all the second chance point that were given to Purdue. This team has talent but no one to step up and take over a game when the offense is no where to be found. Irvin was off and Caris could not get anything to work. James Blackmon Jr, would have been a nice addition to this team.