Final Horn: Purdue 87, Michigan 70

Zach Shaw

WEST LAFAYETTE — One month and six wins after getting blown out by Southern Methodist in Dallas, the Michigan basketball team went on the road against a ranked team again. This time it was No. 20 Purdue, but the result was similar. The Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 12-4 overall) were bullied down low and could not keep pace in the end with the Boilermakers (2-1, 14-2).

Despite a spirited effort without their senior leader, Caris LeVert, Michigan fell to Purdue, 87-70. Here’s our instant reaction from the game.

MVP: Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman. Without senior guard Caris LeVert, the Wolverines were looking for someone to step up in their upset bid. It wasn’t enough to steal a win in the end, but Abdur-Rahkman was more than up to the task. After scoring 14 points starting in LeVert’s spot against Penn State, the sophomore guard was at it again, leading the team with career-high 25 points on 16 shots and three rebounds.

On a night when Michigan could do next to nothing against one of the nation’s top defenses, Abdur-Rahkman at least made the Boilermakers sweat when he had the ball.

It was over when… Thanks to Abdur-Rahkman’s efforts, Michigan was hanging around, down just six with 5:08 to go. But through transition dunks, wide-open 3-pointers and sloppy defense by the Wolverines, Purdue went on an easy 12-0 run, putting the game well out of reach. A pick-and-roll dunk for AJ Hammons stretched the lead to 13 and a rare Hammons three pointer extended it to 16 with under four minutes to play, sending the fans to the exits. The Purdue big man finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three assists in the win.


Key stat: Entering the game one of the best in the nation at avoiding turnovers, Michigan was outscored 16-4 in points off turnovers turnovers. The Wolverines held on to the ball for the most part, with only an 11.9% turnover rate, but gave up too many live ball fast breaks and failed to create turnovers against Purdue’s sometimes sloppy offense.

Room for improvement: It was almost inevitable that Michigan was going to struggle in the paint against the bigs-heavy Boilermakers and on offense without LeVert, but Michigan’s struggles were most evident when defending the perimeter. Though not a typical 3-point shooting team, Purdue found some success from beyond the arc, shooting an impressive 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

  • gobluemd16

    Transition defense was terrible. D Walt and Irvin were 5/19 combined. Not going to win on the road that way, especially against a good team. Bright spots were obviously MAAR, and I thought the defensive rebounding was very solid. Not sure why we were fouling the last 2 mins down 13-15ish. Could hurt our KenPom by making scoring margin larger, which committee members look at.

    • glenrice41

      fouling == desperation move

  • bobohle

    The defense just seem to run out of gas after closing the gap to 5 or 6 pts several times then giving up multiple threes. I’ve said it several times, IMO,it all starts by not having B1G caliber bigs. You guys may argue with me,but we need to recruit different types of bigs to compete in the upper tier of the conference.

    • David

      Spot on man. Our guards have done a great job moving the ball, feeding inside, shooting, etc., but when our bigs can’t haul down O-Rebs every once in a while, effectively catch passes on the rolls, finish, finish STRONG or even go at a defense in order to get to the line, you’ve become one dimensional. The icing was when Donnal mis-handled a bunny bounce-pass from Walton for an easy dunk then didn’t get back on defense in time and Purdue knocked down a 3 in the corner. I was pleased with his progression but probably was in large part due to the competition. It will be difficult for us to beat the physical teams unless we shoot the lights out.

      Basically, tons of credit to Purdue for feeding it low all night, playing awesome defense (they shut Duncan down), hitting their open 3s and being beasts on the boards.

    • MGoTweeter

      I agree that I would like to see a beilein team go get a pure athlete for the five spot, just to see what would happen. But I do think there is some potential in this crop. Donnal played much better tonight than I thought he would and Wilson had a few positive moments. Most everyone’s big are going to struggle against Purdue.

    • glenrice41

      I agree. Bigs who can shoot are nice, but in the grand scheme of things, spreading it out on the perimeter Beilein-style would only be enhanced by a stud in the middle (max 3). I am disturbed that so many bigs are in the pipeline…5 on the roster next year (Wilson, Wagner, Teske, Davis, Donnal). Kids are not stupid…or are they?

  • glenrice41

    I dunno, I feel like Michigan was psyched out from the start. Maybe pumping in crowd noise and the like is not the best way to mentally prepare your team for a road game. Seems to me that MAAR has the right mentality to succeed under these conditions: pick your spots, go hard, and don’t let the situation get to your head. Irvin and Walton clearly were affected by the crowd or the notion that they had to make up for Caris’ absence. Egotism (weak or strong) is the death of UM basketball.

    • Corperryale

      Good insights. I also got the sense that Irvin was trying to “be LeVert” when in fact MAAR, without the weight of expectations and draft hopes, went about the same task much, much more effectively.

    • Tuff Enough

      I agree Walton and Irvin has always had older and better players around them to kind of lead the way and now its there turn and they look scared like freaking two Baby Doe’s in the woods.

  • Chezaroo

    MAAR made 10 baskets. The rest of the team 13. Incredible.

    • Corperryale

      … and yet some people think he should retreat into the shadows when LeVert returns to form. He needs some of Walton’s and Irvin’s minutes from here on out.

      This was not an outlier… MAAR can step up. He needs to work on things, but who on this team doesn’t?

    • Slim33

      yet the last 10 mins of the game we tried to run the offense through Irvin who couldn’t get out of his own way tonight. Roll with the hot hand man!

  • Slim33

    Walton has got to get so much better in terms of being smart, playing good D, and being a leader/floor general. IMO he’s killing us recently.
    Some guys just know how to get shots off when a big is guarding them or when a big is looming down low and some guys are just clueless. MAAR knows how to take it at the bigs while Irvin is clueless.