Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Michigan Wolverines put
their perfect league ledger on the line, as they play host to the Purdue
Boilermakers in a Big Ten Conference affair on Thursday night.
Purdue enters the fray hoping to put the brakes on a two-game slide, which saw
the team narrowly lose to Northwestern in overtime (63-60) before being downed
at home by Wisconsin last Saturday (72-58). Despite the recent setbacks, the
Boilermakers are in the midst of a solid campaign, having logged a 13-7
overall record, although they currently sit a game under .500 in conference
play at 3-4.
Michigan won its ninth straight game by taking out No. 3 Michigan State last
Saturday, on the road no less, in an 80-75 final. It was also the third
consecutive win over a ranked foe for the Wolverines (Iowa and Wisconsin being
the others), and improved them to 15-4 overall and 7-0 in conference. The win
over the hated Spartans catapulted the Maize and Blue from No. 21 to No. 10 in
this week's AP poll.
Purdue owns an 83-64 lead in the all-time series with Michigan, but the
Wolverines have won the last two meetings. The teams will get together again
in West Lafayette on Feb. 26 to conclude the regular-season series.
Poor shooting was the primary culprit in Purdue's recent loss to Wisconsin, as
the home team made good only 35.4 percent of its field goal attempts, which
included a dismal 3-of-17 showing from 3-point range. Couple that with the
fact that the Badgers hit seven treys and went a staggering 27-of-33 at the
free-throw line and it's not difficult to see why the Boilermakers came out on
the short end. Terone Johnson and Bryson Scott scored 10 points apiece to pace
Purdue in defeat.
Terone Johnson (13.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Ronnie Johnson (10.6 ppg, 3.7 apg) are
the team's only double-digit scorers on the season, but four others net
between 6.1 and 9.7 ppg, helping Purdue generate 74.3 ppg behind typical
shooting outputs of .428 overall and .337 from beyond the arc. On defense, the
Boilermakers are permitting 69.6 ppg, with foes converting just 40.7 percent
of their total shots, which includes a 31.3 percent effort from distance.
Purdue wins the rebounding battle by 4.0 rpg, and is goading the opposition
into nearly 13 turnovers per outing.
Trailing by six at the break, Michigan put the clamps down on defense while at
the same time getting hot from the floor as it battled back to knock off
Michigan State in East Lansing last weekend. The backcourt was largely
responsible for the comeback, as Derrick Walton, Jr. Nik Stauskas and Caris
LeVert combined for 52 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. The trio knocked
down 10 3-pointers, helping the team to a 57.9 percent showing from long
range. Michigan State was guilty of only five turnovers, but the Wolverines
claimed a 25-16 edge in points from the charity stripe, and scored 15 second-
chance points compared to only four for the Spartans.
Michigan's season stats are obviously quite favorable, and while it boasts a
few guys capable of controlling the action on any given night, it has been
pretty much a total team effort that has led it to the top of the Big Ten
standings. Stauskas leads the league in scoring with his 18.5 ppg, but seven
others net between 5.1 and 13.6 ppg, with that latter figure belonging to
forward Glenn Robinson III. LeVert (11.9 ppg) has also done a nice job of
assisting when called upon. Overall, the Wolverines are in the black in
scoring (+13.0), rebounding (+2.6) and turnovers (+2.4), all while shooting
48.5 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3-point land, and 75.1 percent
from the foul line.
The Sports Network