Big Ten Tournament: Michigan vs. Purdue Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan put up a fight against Purdue in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, but fell short down the stretch with its NCAA future hanging in the balance.

Purdue was too big, too strong and too effective inside for the Wolverines to handle. Michigan kept pace for the first 15 minutes, matching Purdue’s points in the paint with jumpers on their end of the floor, but eventually the shots stopped falling and the Boilermakers pulled away.

The Wolverines will look back on this game and realize that it was lost in the final two minutes of the first half and the first four of the second half. Michigan trailed 36-30 with 2:23 to play and missed four opportunities to close the gap — a missed layup, two missed threes and a missed jumper — entering halftime down 8. In the second half, Purdue put the game away as the Wolverines missed their first 6 shots from the floor and suddenly found themselves down 17 points.

Michigan showed some great fight in the second half, cutting the lead to 6 points on a coast-to-coast and-one layup for Derrick Walton, but the damage done in that six minute stretch was irrecoverable.

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Michigan’s offense just didn’t have enough juice to win this game. Purdue is a good defensive team, but this was Michigan’s worst offensive showing of the season at .87 points per possession.

The Wolverines actually got off to a hot start, scoring 25 points in the first 21 possessions of play (1.19 PPP), but managed only 34 in the final 47 offensive possessions of the game (.72 PPP). Tired legs undoubtedly played something of a role — Michigan was in its third challenging game of the week while Purdue slept walked past Illinois yesterday — but U-M just couldn’t make shots. The Wolverines shot just 47% inside the arc and 24% from the perimeter for a 42.6 eFG%. Michigan actually shot the ball worse in its win over Purdue this season, but 3 of its 7 worst shooting nights have come against the Boilers this season.

On the defensive end, John Beilein opted to stick with the recipe that worked in Ann Arbor: single coverage against Purdue’s bigs. It didn’t work as well this time around. AJ Hammons scored 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting while Isaac Haas had 11 in 9 minutes and Caleb Swanigan added 7. On the game, Purdue shot 25-of-43 (58%) inside the arc and outscored the Wolverines 44-28 in the paint.

Beilein said that Michigan stuck to that plan because a) it worked in Ann Arbor b) there was only 24 hours of prep and c) Purdue had been shooting the ball extremely well from three. The Boilers only made 4-of-12 three-point attempts — compared to the 9-of-18 they made in West Lafayette when the Wolverines doubled — so the approach did work in that regard, but Hammons was dominant all night.

Selection Sunday — the inaugural two hour version (5:30 p.m., CBS) — is a little over 24 hours away and it will be a long wait for Michigan, which will watch the show together in their film room. The Wolverines are projected as one of the last teams in the field and will have to hope that no bids are stolen in conference championships. Should Michigan make the field, a Tuesday or Wednesday night game in Dayton appears to be inevitable.

Player Bullets:

  • Derrick Walton: This was a gutty performance from Derrick Walton. He’s been playing heavy minutes for months now, but gave Michigan everything he had on both ends of the floor. He had active hands defensively, grabbing 4 steals, and he finally made a shot from the floor including a pair of triples. He was definitely Michigan’s leader on the floor, but just didn’t have quite enough to carry them to the win.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: Abdur-Rahkman had another strong performance with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting despite having Rapheal Davis in his grill for most of the game. He found ways to get to the basket when Michigan needed, but Purdue did a good job of taking away any passing lanes when he drove (2 turnovers to 0 assists).
  • Duncan Robinson: Robinson was just 1-of-6 from the floor and struggled from distance before forcing the issue attacking the basket, mostly unsuccessfully. Robinson did hand out three assists, but Michigan is going to need its sharp shooter to hit shots in whatever postseason lies ahead.
  • Zak IrvinIrvin came out hot and hit a bunch of tough, tough mid-range twos early on in the first half, but he just couldn’t hit the (open) threes. He was 1-of-7 from three-point range and had a lot of clean looks early on that could have changed the game. The 6-foot-7 junior finished with 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting with 3 assists in 31 minutes.
  • Mark DonnalDonnal was 3-of-6 from the floor and struggled to contain Hammons. He also had a brutal stretch early in the second half where he was two or three steps late to help multiple times as Purdue scored layups.
  • Kam Chatman: Chatman knocked in a three early on and it looked like his hot shooting would continue, but he missed his next four shots. I still liked the energy that he gave Michigan on both ends of the floor. He grabbed three boards, threw an assist and blocked a shot against Swanigan in 13 minutes.
  • Moritz WagnerWagner scored on a beautiful finger roll driving against Haas and also split a pair of free throws while grabbing two rebounds. He’s giving Michigan more than Doyle at this point and he seems to be giving more solid minutes than we saw at other points during the conference season.
  • Ricky DoyleDoyle missed a pair of free throws and turned the ball over once in 11 minutes while being whistled for 2 fouls.
  • Aubrey DawkinsDawkins played 11 minutes as Michigan was searching for a shooter with legs, but he couldn’t knock in a triple, scoring his only basket on a backdoor cut. His defensive woes continued as he fell asleep on at least two of Purdue’s four made threes (Mathias, Edwards).
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  • Wayman Britt

    UM just could not make shots. This has been the theme for the last month or so. They had good looks in the second half, just could not connect. Especially as PU was pulling away. On the positive side defensive wasn’t good, but UM has played a little better defense the last few games.

    • Mattski

      I’d say it’s a combination of tiredness and lacking confidence. I’m not convinced that Robinson can’t have a great next few years–it’s not that he hasn’t been getting open shots.

  • jlustig22

    On the strategy not to double down low, can’t you adjust that once you see Purdue is destroying you inside? It’s one thing to come in with a set gameplan but you should have the ability to make adjustments and change things up. Beilein has obviously done that at times with changing up man and zone defense but I think they should have tried to double down and make Purdue knock down jumpers. It may have also failed miserably but I think it was worth a shot.

    Purdue is a bad matchup for us. Regardless of how much they dominated down low, we just weren’t good enough offensively. For us to have a chance, we needed to hit our open shots. Irvin missed like 4 open 3’s and Robinson really got no open looks.

    Our offense just gets too stagnant at times and we have long scoring droughts. We really lack that one guy who can consistently create offense for himself and break down the defense.

    • bobohle

      Don’t forget the missed layups also.

      • malcolm bolt

        This team always misses a lot of layups. The big men tend to blow several per game. Part of that is because they have slow reaction time, poor hands, and to some degree just poor coordination. This is why dunking the ball is key. Dunking the ball is also key to fire up the bench and get people cheering.

        Irvin has a tendency to blow layups as well. Does not adjust well to putting the ball on the backboard and has weak lift.

        Walton needs to develop a floater or tear drop to his game.

        Overall, a lot of these guys fear contact and mentally stunt themselves from converting. MAAR needs to conduct the practice drills on how to finish at the rim. He is the only one who expects to finish everything time. The others are simply hoping.

    • Slim33

      Agreed, JB should have switched it up and doubled the post here and there to mix it up. I would rather see if they can find an open man and hit a 3 then give them easy deuces.

  • David Remmler

    We definitely need a true post player, one who can rebound and be a defensive presence down low. Hopefully, Teske and/or Davis will provide that next year. Our current bigs are just not great at the 5, maybe the 4 but not the 5.

    As for the guard and wing positions, we are fine. Robinson, Dawkins and Irvin all are legitimate offensive threats from the wing, despite their hiccups at times. And MAAR, Walton and Simpson will provide great to elite guard play.

    This year, we have earned a spot in the NCAA Tourney. Hopefully, we get our just rewards. But even if get into the tourney, it will be almost impossible to make win against teams with a big/athletic front court. So we will be ultra lucky just to win a game or two.

    • Coltrane

      I expect Wagner and Doyle to improve next season and think that seems more likely than freshmen bigs contributing. I think a key will be Chatman and Wagner. Chatman has been showing flashes of what he could be if he can put it all together. Wagner just needs to get stronger and build on the experience of this season. If he can do that without losing his quickness he could be a difference maker.

      • malcolm bolt

        I think Doyle is at his ceiling regardless of him playing better the last few weeks. He is very awkward, has bad hands, slow and doesn’t have a lot of lift. Basically just a project. He won’t be a Kaleb Tarczewski. We all are just wishfully hoping.

        • Coltrane

          His improved play tracks with the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea which was described as severe and had the effect of making him function as if he were drunk. I don’t expect him to be all conference but it’s fair to expect him to improve.

      • David Remmler

        Very good points. I would also anticipate improvement from our current bigs, especially Wagner. Wagner has shown flashes on the offensive end. With more minutes and more freedom to show his offensive skills, he could have a high ceiling offensively. As for Doyle, I don’t see as much of a ceiling. He has regressed as a sophomore. He has been a mediocre to poor defender and an atrocious rebounder. Donnal has shown remarkable improvement in most areas this year but he also is limited as a defender and rebounder.

        Overall though, none of the current bigs show much potentional either defensively or rebounding in the middle.

        Could they get better? They could and definitely deserve time to develop further. But none appear to be good bets in this regard.

        We really, really need a rebounding and defensive presence down low to compete for another Big Ten title and Final Four.

        • Coltrane

          Part of the rebounding woes is scheme, of course part of that blocking out scheme is dictated by deficiencies with the bigs. See below on Doyle. I do think his health contributed to his poor showing this year. Again, I don’t think he will be all conference but I think he’ll be a reliable contributor.

  • Stephen Chang

    We are lacking a post presence and that showed today against Purdue. However, Michigan in my eyes has done enough to make its case to the committee and will likely dance. Seeding is still up in the air right now.

  • gobluemd16

    Jerry Palm and Lunardi both have us out, as does Assembly Call, the most accurate bracketologist on Bracket Matrix. Going to be a long Sunday.

  • Slim33

    I hope M gets a taste of the big dance this year. It would be huge for the team next year to build off of. Looking at all the other bubble team resumes I don’t see how M doesn’t get in. Monmouth? Cool bench bro, now go home.