For the second time this week, Michigan welcomed a ranked team with one of the best offenses in the country to the Crisler Center, and for the second time, the Wolverines won easily. In this one, Michigan got out to a fast start against Purdue: consecutive threes from Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews, then a layup from Zavier Simpson past Matt Haarms prompted a timeout from Matt Painter less than four minutes into the game. At that point, the Wolverines led 13-4. Purdue didn’t get the deficit to within a possession for the rest of the game.
Michigan found plenty of open shots against the Boilermakers’ switch-heavy defense in the first half and took advantage. Michigan went on an extended scoring run reminiscent of John Beilein’s best offensive teams, and there were plenty of highlights throughout the half: the Wolverines hit nine threes, including three each from Poole and Matthews; Ignas Brazdeikis hit a particularly nasty step-back three over Grady Eifert; Matthews found Jon Teske for two alley-oop dunks, one of which extended Michigan’s lead to 31-16 halfway through the half.
That 31-16 margin held up for almost five minutes, as Michigan’s offense went cold and their defense began to lock down Purdue. Ryan Cline got open for a few threes, but otherwise Michigan’s defense was on point, especially against All-American lead guard Carsen Edwards. Purdue’s star needed to have a strong performance to have a chance at pulling off the upset, but he was held to 7-21 shooting from the field, fell short of his scoring average with 19 points, and had more turnovers than assists for the Boilermakers.
Purdue’s offense is built around Edwards’s relentless attacking style, and his aggressiveness eventually waned, as he only had three shots after the under-16 timeout in the second half. Michigan played well on both sides of the halftime break: the Wolverines hit a few threes and had another Matthews-to-Teske alley-oop to close out the first, and kept pace with a little run from Edwards to start the second. Poole kept on scoring - and finished with a game-high 21 points on just nine shots - but Matthews cooled off, and wound up scoreless in the second half.
Michigan’s offense bogged down for a while - they had a stretch without a made field goal that lasted for over nine minutes - but Purdue was unable to cut the lead to closer than 12 points during that span. Jon Teske emerged as a focal point of the Wolverine offense in the second half: he hit two pick-and-pop threes, slipped some screens to break a ball-screen coverage that had started to stymie Michigan’s guards, and had 12 second half points (he finished with 17). Of course, his excellent defense around the rim was a big factor in the win as well.
Over the course of the game, Michigan’s offense had some hot and cold stretches, but ultimately the Wolverines shot 13-26 from three and ended the game with 1.23 points per possession. Zavier Simpson, who played a major role in slowing down Edwards - sticking to him off screens, contesting every shot - was more involved in the offense than usual. Simpson was inefficient shooting (10 points on a team-high 14 shots), but had seven assists to just one turnover and frequently made the right decision when confronted with bigs on the switch. Michigan’s starters were relied on heavily in this game, as Isaiah Livers was quiet, and all five finished with at least nine points.
The Wolverine defense allowed 0.92 points per possession against an elite offense and one of the best scorers in college basketball. Michigan did well on several different fronts: forcing Edwards into a ton of missed shots (and maklng him really labor for even decent looks) was the key battle, but Michigan also muted Purdue’s typically terrific three-point shooting and offensive rebounding. As usual, the Wolverine defense was close to impeccable in its ball-screen coverages, rotations, and decisions on whether to send help; they contested almost every shot and eventually broke Purdue’s will.
Michigan travels to Northwestern on Tuesday and then will go a month without facing a decent opponent until Big Ten play resumes. This was the only scheduled matchup between the Wolverines and the Boilermakers, and UM notched a strong early result as they mount a campaign for a conference title. Michigan has been easily the best team in the league thus far and have looked as dominant as anyone in all of college basketball. With today's win, they recorded their their third quality win of the season - and they still haven’t even played a close game.
[Box score after the JUMP]