Minor correction... Was an 8-point halftime lead.
Derrick Walton played perhaps the best game of his career [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Michigan fans worried about a sloppy, letdown performance after the Wolverines emerged unscathed from a brutal three-game stretch had a portion of their worst fears realized. They committed an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers tonight, including gaffes on three straight first-half possessions to give Purdue a brief one-point edge.
That didn't last long, however, as the home team simply couldn't miss against a porous Boilermakers defense. The final numbers: 21/33 from two and 7/13 from three for a remarkable 68.5 eFG%. Purdue managed to win the turnover and rebounding battles but few teams could've kept pace with Michigan's shooting this evening.
"We did just a wonderful job of getting good shots and doing just enough to win," said John Beilein in the postgame radio interview, and he may have been understating matters.
The backcourt essentially called their own shots all night. Nik Stauskas scored 16 points on 5/10 FGs, including an explosive blow-by reverse layup late in the first half and a couple now-signature pull-up jumpers in the second. Caris LeVert recorded his first career double-double with 14 points (5/11 FG), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks; his highlights included a LeBron-esque jump stop layup plus the foul and a coast-to-coast layup off his own steal.
Then there was Derrick Walton, who built upon his career-high 19 points against Michigan State with a 14-point effort on just seven shots, of which he missed one, while also chipping in three assists and two steals. He looked more confident than ever working the pick and roll, getting to the basket routinely—big man butterfingers robbed him of a couple more assists. After AJ Hammons committed a lane violation on the front end of a one-and-one with three seconds left in the first half, Walton made Purdue pay dearly by covering the length of the court—splitting two defenders in the process—and finishing at the buzzer before Hammons could react to give Michigan a six-point halftime lead.
LeVert [left, Upchurch] and Stauskas [right, Fuller] both got whatever they wanted offensively.
By the second half, it seemed like Michigan's players were trying to one-up each other's plays. Walton dove into the lane and suddenly scooped a pass to a trailing Jordan Morgan, who finished with a layup for two of his 11 points. LeVert followed with his Olympic long jump tryout. Stauskas knocked down a heavily contested jumper from the stripe. Jon Horford worked his way into the paint and hit a turnaround fade away for two of his four points on the night. Zak Irvin responded to a Hammons dunk with a nothing-but-net triple from the wing.
Even though Michigan never played fully within themselves—the split their 16 turnovers evenly between the first and second halves—their ability to create and make good shots* was on full display. They were lucky that their worst turnover performance of the season by both rate and number came against an overmatched opponent; at the same time, it's tough to complain when they still managed to score 1.17 points per possession.
Caris LeVert made up for his four turnovers with some impressive transition defense, including two blocks (though Purdue recovered for a putback after one) and a clean strip that forced the Boilermakers to take the ball out of bounds after a two-on-one break. He used his length exceptionally on both ends in this one, consistently getting his hands on the ball whether it was in an opponent's hands or caroming off the rim.
Glenn Robinson III was a relative non-factor as the only starter to not score in double digits, finishing with eight points on six shots—though he did hit his first three-pointer since January 14th—and three rebounds in 36 minutes. He managed to get to the rim off a nice jab-step in an isolation situation, however, which was a good sign after a couple games in which he created very little in the halfcourt.
Spike Albrecht only played seven minutes due to Walton's superb outing, especially since Walton also played exceptional on-ball defense in this one, holding Terone Johnson to just four points (2/6 FG) and two assists to two turnovers. Spike made the most of his limited time, however, hitting his first layup in Big Ten play and draining a three-pointer on his only attempts.
The defense played well as a unit, forcing Hammons to work hard for his 16 points (7/14 FG), and the combination of Morgan and Horford limited him to just one offensive rebound; the guards contributed some nice help defense on him from the weak side, especially in the first half. (Nik Stauskas had three blocks all on this type of action if memory serves.) The team had issues boxing out, however, as Purdue rebounded 16 of their 37 misses (39%); while that's Purdue's M.O., it was still a weak area in an otherwise strong defensive performance.
*In Stauskas' case, just about any shot is a good shot.
Minor correction... Was an 8-point halftime lead.
Purdue played the best they possibly could and lost by 9.
I wouldn't go that far - they shot horribly. But we were about as terrible handling the ball as we possibly could be (16 turnovers).
Starting to really believe in this team's chances to make it back to the Final Four. I know it has been said before but it is just really fun watching them play basketball.
of the NCAA. Still plenty of the B1G to stumble over. That said, at this point, this season should be in "enjoy the ride" mode. There will probably be more great moments to go along with some disappointments. I'd say the chances of Michigan replicating their adjusted Offensive Efficiency next season like they did without Burke & Hardaway are slim. Hope I'm pproven wrong.
Fair point about "enjoying the ride". It just never feels like they are out of a game with the way they can light it up and hit shots and throw in adjustments by the coaching staff.
there was slim chance of replicating last year's offensive efficiency this year without Burke and hardaway and look where they are.
The basket was an ocean early complete w/ Petway the Dolphin King and we just sailed after that. The coming of age of D. Walton is fun to watch. He did some things last night they were Burke-esque. Trey would beat his guy but if the lane didn't open he'd slow his dribble and keep his defender behind him w/ his body until something opened up or he could pull it out and reset. That's a veteran play that I saw DW do a couple of times and his confidence on the offensive end is growing.
I love this play. It seems like Stauskus and now Walton have put this play into their arsenal this season and it's beautiful. It essentially puts the defense in a 2on1 situation and forces the defensive center to either defend the ball or go with with the roll leaving the pull up jumper wide open. Chauncey used to do this with Rasheed and Corliss Williamson all the time. There's almost nothing the defense can do to stop it when it is run by a smart ball handler.
Exactly. It's smart basketball a Belien trademark.
we are without McGary
and Burke and Hardaway, Jr.
It is amazing how much was lost from last years team and how good it still is. I just wish they were a little better defensively.
I think the thing that is disappointing about the turnovers is that they weren't just giving the ball away, but in many cases they were the proverbial "first pass in the fast break." They would have been really bad against a mildly capable team.
Also, Caris seemed to have some trouble staying in front of guys in the half court, which is strange, because that hasn't been an issue for him.
and figured he was trying to play the slowdown and collect yourselves type of game, trying to play responsibly. Problem with that is it takes a dimension of their game away. This team should run when it can...Nik proved that pretty well last night.
Those three consecutive turnovers included some guys just plain falling down. Yakety-sax style. Miraculous that they didn't result in fast-break dunks each time. Or perhaps we were just playing Purdue.
we do have the toughest remaining schedule in the country when you look at our remaining opponents winning percentage. This offense is a well oiled machine so I like our chances against anyone. Its that defense and rebounding that scares the shit out of me.
Yeah, unfortunately defense and rebounding are more reliable than hot shooting come Tournament time.
But that's who we are. We are not going to get significantly better on D, especially in the post. We will go as far as our O and hot shooting take us. But one sub-par game and we're done.
I thought we boxed out better pretty well in the first half. It seemed like a lot of the rebounds Purdue got was Michigan players not being able to hold onto the ball. I can't complain too much though because tonight was the only one I can remember where we seemed to have issues with it. Hopefully justa fluke
We played some 2-3 zone, mainly in the second half IIRC, and we got killed on the boards when we did. I'd want to see the stats but it seemed like 50% of our 2-3 possessions ended in an oreb and putback.
Am I getting old or is a 9pm start on a Thursday a dumb idea?
Ehh, games are only 2 hours long so it's done by 11pm. Same as a football or baseball game starting at 7:30pm.
I missed the last couple games because of work. The 9pm start meant I was actually able to watch the game.
The game last night reminded a lot of an early round NCAA tourny game when your team is in "survive and advance" mode. You know you're way better than the team you're up against but you also know that if they mentally let down they can get beat so you're never 100% confident of the outcome.
I some what agree. I compared the run from Northwestern to Staee as a tourney run. NW round of 64, Nebraska 32, PSU(doesn't fit) 16, Wisc 8, Iowa 4, Staee Championship game. I see this next stretch that started w/ Purdue last night as the same. Three so-so squads w/ three ranked opponents 2 of which are on the road. Got to love the B10.
I thought the half court defense was much improved, especially on the perimeter. Purdue did not have many open looks and when they tried to drive and kick out the help D came from the right spot and their shooters were not open. Just my opinion. Could be the opposition. We better take better care of the ball in Bloomington.
Lavert is one of the fastest players I've ever seen who isn't 6'2" and under... He is quickly becoming a star and I could easily see this kid playing on Sundays (expression).
Walton/Stauskas/Lavert have all blossomed. GR3 has slightly improved (slightly disappointed here but I'll take it). Irvin has not been a liability which is fine for a freshman, and has made some key 3s. Spike has been steady as heck and made great plays, and Jorford has been great.
All and all, just AWESOME. Hard not to love Stauskas' attitude and leadership, but my personal fave is Lil Durant Lavert because man, did anyone see that level of play and speed coming when he was recruited?
Worst part about this game--I watched a recording of it on espn3 and for some reason they padded the recording with 30 minutes of dead air at the end so for the entire game I'm thinking 'this looks like an overtime game' and I was forever waiting for some horrible, ridiculous run to put Purdue back in it. So stressful, damn you ESPN!