Game 16: Michigan at Purdue Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan scrapped and clawed its way through a grinding first half in West Lafayette, but eventually Purdue’s size and strength wore down the Wolverines.

Michigan held the Boilermakers to just 21 points in their first 26 possessions, but Matt Painter’s group went on to score 66 points in their final 41 offensive possessions of the game. That’s 1.61 points per trip over the final two-thirds of the game which allowed Purdue to pick up the comfortable 87-70 win.

Purdue posted a 92.8% effective field goal percentage in the second half, shooting 9-of-11 on two-point attempts and 7-of-10 on three-point attempts in the final frame. The Wolverines tinkered with the 1-3-1 zone, token zone pressure and a 2-3 zone, but just couldn’t find the answers defensively.

In a season that has already had a few disappointing defensive performances, this was Michigan’s worst. The Wolverines allowed 1.29 points per trip for the game despite holding Purdue to just a 24% offensive rebounding rate — a statistic boosted perhaps because there just weren’t many misses to grab.


Michigan’s offense just topped a point per possession at 1.04 points per trip, but it had to work for every single basket. About the only thing that really seemed to work for the Wolverine offense was to isolate Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and hope he could convert an incredible layup at the basket. He did more often than not, finishing with a career-high 25 points on 16 shots, but Michigan needed another element offensively with Caris LeVert on the sidelines.

The pick-and-roll offense going to the hoop was eliminated by Purdue’s defense plan. The Boilers left Hammons and Haas at home, effectively giving up the pick-and-pop three to Wilson or Donnal — who finished 3-of-7 from three — and Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton failed to create anything at the rim with the shot blocker waiting for them.

The Wolverines actually shot the ball well from three — making 11-of-27 long range efforts — but just couldn’t score inside. Michigan was 9-of-18 at the rim and just 3-of-16 when shooting mid-range jumpers. Michigan shot just 36% inside the arc for the game, and players other than Abdur-Rahkman made just 4-of-23 two-point attempts on the evening.

The three is vitally important to Michigan’s offense, but the Wolverines’ success depends on whether those easy baskets exist around the rim. It should come as no surprise that the Michigan has lost in its four worst two-point shooting performances this season


Michigan was outscored 42-18 in the paint, a statistic that won’t surprise many, but perhaps the most disappointing peripheral stat of the game was in the turnover department. I wrote in the preview that the Wolverines had to force turnovers to create some easy offense, but they managed to score just four points off of nine Boilermaker turnovers. While Michigan only gave the ball away seven times in the loss, Purdue made the Wolverines pay — scoring an impressive 16 points, or 2.28 points per turnover.

special stats purdue

The Boilermakers are a horrific matchup, especially without LeVert, but this wasn’t the step in the right direction that John Beilein’s team hoped to take after the last month of steady improvement. The Wolverines get a little time off this weekend before another marquee opponent in Maryland at the Crisler Center on Tuesday.

Player Bullets:

  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: We’ve seen Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman do this in the past, but this was one of his best performances of his career. With Michigan facing a pressure perimeter defensive team and struggling to get anything going, Abdur-Rahkman just went to work and attacked the rim. He was 8-of-11 on two-point attempts and many of them had a ridiculous degree of difficulty.
  • Derrick Walton: This was another disappointing showing for Derrick Walton in a game where Michigan so badly needed him to take the next step. A few late threes padded his stats, but he looked out of sorts in the half court offense for most of the night. Walton has showed some flashes this season, but his assist to turnover numbers (5 assists to 10 turnovers) and two-point shooting numbers (3-of-15) have been ugly in Big Ten games.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin had strung together a nice stretch of 3 or 4 solid games, but he wasn’t up to the task of cracking Purdue’s defense. His drives to the rim were rejected emphatically and he missed all three triples that he attempted and mostly settled for a smattering of mid-range jumpers. He managed a team-high three assists, including a few nice skip passes for threes, but he also had a team-high 4 turnovers as he dribbled himself into trouble. Defensively, I thought Irvin did about as good of a job as you could ask against Caleb Swanigan, who scored only 7 points in 22 minutes.
  • Duncan Robinson: Duncan Robinson was aggressive early, making two difficult threes and attempting several twos off the bounce that we’ve rarely seen from him, but he was locked down from around midway through the first half when Raphael Davis never left his side. The physicality of the game seemed to wear at him a bit and his habit of poor closeouts caught up to him as well as I’d guess he was burned on several of Purdue’s three-point makes on the night.
  • Mark DonnalDonnal had a few bright spots, but eventually was just overwhelmed by Hammons and Haas inside. The 2-for-2 three-point shooting was nice, but he had a critical bobble and giveaway that would have cut the game to four and instead ended up as a corner three for Purdue midway through the second half.
  • DJ Wilson: Wilson was the second man off the bench, a move that Beilein attributed to a strong week in practice, and did a decent job in 15 minutes. I’m not going to fault Wilson for attempting five threes in the loss as Purdue was obviously going to let him have the shots and he was 6-of-12 from long distance before tonight’s game. He had a few bright spots defensively with a nice block and steal to utilize his length and even handed out two assists.
  • Ricky DoyleDoyle was the third big man off the bench, leap-frogged by DJ Wilson, and didn’t play many minutes in the loss. It’s clear that Doyle has been slipping as his only shot attempt was an easily blocked shot in the lane. He’s going to have to give the coaches a reason to move him up in the rotation right now.
  • Aubrey DawkinsThis was a tough game for Aubrey Dawkins because he’s not ready to battle against a guy like Swanigan at the four, but he did knock down a pair of threes in the loss.
  • Andrew Dakich: Dakich gave Michigan some great minutes in the first half and the Wolverines actually extended the lead, but he was in there just a bit too long and tried to do too much with a one handed scoop layup that was rejected and sent the other way, ending up in a three on the other end.
  • Moritz WagnerWagner played a team-low four minutes and grabbed one rebound in limited action.
  • rastaman

    Float like a butterfly sting like a bee

  • John

    Actually, the good news isn’t even good news: we do play Purdue again at home on February 13th. :(

    • Whoops. Sheesh. Sorry about that, don’t have to play at Mackey at least :-)

  • Chezaroo

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

  • gobluemd16

    Have no info on this, but I feel like Walton may be a bit injured. He has seemed off going to the rim in Big Ten play. I remember a tough fall against Illinois, or maybe he isn’t fully back from that ankle sprain earlier in the season.

    • robpollard

      I don’t know if I hope he’s injured or not. I hope not, but man has his play been massively disappointing. He’s flopping around like an out of control freshman on offense.

      I really thought he’d step up and be a 2nd or 3rd team all-B1G performer. That’s not happening.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    i know both Walton & Irvin are fighting injuries…but i honestly don’t think they can carry a team…they obviously need a Levert out there…Rakhman & Robinson did there part…but im starting to believe that Walton & Irvin just never developed into what we expected (i hate to say it) but when we play upper echleon teams these guys don’t produce the leadership we need from them…hopefully by senior year

    • dingleberries1972

      The recruits we got after the runner up and elite eight were not as good as that monentum should have got us. Get an elite player from those runs!

  • Unsung hero of that game: Rapheal Davis. Hit the two huge threes, had a big and one in transtion and had six assists and his typical lock down defense.

  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    First of all, big props to MAAR. He did everything he could and helped shoulder a heavy burden. He continues to impress and is a real testament to player development.

    Also in my opinion, this a game that shows we need to find a way to keep Spike if he is 100% healthy next year. Dakich is a liability out there and he set off a chain of events that wiped out what could have been a more productive half for Donnal.

    In a game where Levert is out, Walton and Irvin simply have to do a lot more. Neither did anything close to enough.

    Irvin in particular was completely out of control and single-handedly killed our momentum numerous times.

    Big picture: This isn’t that big a deal if Levert is actually progressing healthwise. We have time to regroup as a team (and fanbase) for a home game where its our turn to have that home court advantage/bounces go our way against what I feel will be our first signature win.

  • David Remmler

    Great effort and competitive game on the road against one of the top 5-10 teams in the country without our leader in scoring, rebounding and assists.

    Much cause for optimism despite the loss. Liked the energy from Donnal, Wilson and Wagner (in his few minutes) although they were overmatched at times. Held our own rebounding.

    MAAR showed his potential as well. Walton and Irvin still aren’t playing optimally though.

    With similar effort, we should make the tourney. If full healthy, we are limited by our lack of strength inside but dangerous if holding our own on the boards and preventing easy buckets.

  • A2MIKE

    Said this before, I love Coach Beilein, but I thought he had a hand in the game getting away. Obviously tried to steal a few too many minutes with Dakich and then that TO in the first half was a couple possessions late. I believe we led 23-19. When it got to 26-23 or even 28-23, needed to call that timeout, not after the 12-0 run is complete.

    Also, Rahk needs to play more, and with Walton struggling, and hopefully Levert back, I would like to see Rahk take some of Walton’s minutes.

    When Purdue comes to Crisler, I would love to see a lineup of Rahk, Levert, Irvin, Robinson and Donnal/Wilson. Put Irvin and Robinson in opposite corners. Play P-n-R with Levert/Rahk between the circles. It will make it real tough for Painter to use their best defender on Robinson.

    Defensively, someone said midway through the 2nd half that we reached critical mass, and they were right. Honestly, I don’t know what could be done, but I do think that you have to zone Purdue. I know zone is a weakness for us, but I don’t see any way to effectively double Hammons/Haas without playing zone.

    • Muhammad played 39 minutes last night. Rapheal Davis doesn’t guard Duncan if Caris is on the floor.

      • A2MIKE

        Should have been more clear, I would like to see Rahk’s minutes increased when Caris comes back and hope he isn’t then relegated to the 5-10 he was getting with a healthy Caris.

  • Chillax

    All I could think of after this game…

  • polisci

    If we want to win the B10 championship, losing at Purdue is the equivalent of par on a hole. It doesn’t hurt us, but it doesn’t help us either. I never expected us to win this. It would have been fantastic to pull it off, but it’s not the end of the world.

    The B10 champ(s) is going to have 4 losses this year (I think). So home against Maryland is the most important game of this stretch. Losing to Maryland at home would be a bogey, i.e., put us behind the 8 ball and force us to win on the road in tough places.

  • Kenny

    Walton’s regress is a mystery. Is he playing with some conditions. I wish we still have Spike.

  • Chillax

    Purdue is so slanted towards the big man, I think you have to play to bigs just to ease them up on the easy layups. You’re not going to beat them under the basket but you can’t just give up. This was a game where DJ needed to use his strength underneath but even with those two Purdue studs it’s not enough. It’s just going to take another year for our bigs to develop physically.

    I think we can put the Doyle show to rest. This is my order of bigs.


    By next year I expect it to be
    Wagner/DJ (this could be a toss up)
    Teske (who will move up as he learns the offense)


  • AA7596

    Remember when Purdue was an elite B1G team with Hummel/Johnson/Moore, then was lost in the wilderness for a while? That seems to be us.

    Once those guys left, Purdue’s numerous recruiting misses (especially Dawson and Harris to MSU) caught up with and killed them, even though Painter is a solid coach. They just couldn’t put much quality on the floor.

    We’re kind of in the same boat now, two years after Stauskas et al. It becomes really stark when LeVert isn’t out there. We don’t have it quite as bad as Purdue did, but there isn’t a Caleb Swanigan at the end of our tunnel just yet either.

  • ChipperFliet

    I don’t care for the EFG%, just give me 3pt % and 2pt %.
    Also don’t care for turnover %’s and reb %’s. I would much rather just look at the actual #’s.
    ie: Reb’s – Purdue 35 – UM 26
    Keep it simple. IMO Just saying….

    • There’s a reason for all of those stats… Especially the rebounding numbers.

      Rebound totals are skewed by the number of shots a team makes or misses and doesn’t separate offensive and defensive rebounds.

  • dingleberries1972

    Nobody hurt Michigan more than Irvin in this game. TOs and terrible shots. Could he dribble any higher? The ball comes to his face. None of these guys have the work ethic of the couple of guys that got Belien extended. I don’t know how many years in a row you can get out bigged and outrebounded before you do something about it? The recruiting classes after a runner up and an elite eight were a disaster. You have got to be able to pull better talent after that momentum.