It took Purdue two days to secure the top spot in the Big Ten and then heartbreakingly lose it.
The Boilermakers (21-4, 10-4 Big Ten) suffered an 82-58 loss to Michigan (13-9, 7-5 Big Ten) on Thursday in a bid to climb back to the top in the Associated polls Press. The 24-point loss was their biggest loss margin since a 26-point loss to Illinois in 2019.
The loss leaves Illinois and Wisconsin among the top teams in the conference at 10-3.
After playing their third game in six days and their second in three days, the Boilermakers looked exhausted and out of rhythm as they did their best to contain Michigan’s 3-point shot. Purdue slowly rushed to cover Wolverine’s perimeter shooters to no avail, allowing Michigan to score nine second-half 3-point field goals on 14 shots.
Purdue’s bench looked almost emotionless as the Wolverines took a 29-point lead with minutes remaining, staring at an electric Michigan bench as each of its players joined the hometown crowd in loud cheers and celebrations dancing.
Where the majority of Purdue’s offense didn’t seem to find its stride against a strong Michigan defensive zone, Ivey continued his hot streak from Tuesday’s game against the Illini as he headed fearlessly to the edge against the Michigan forward Moussa Diabate. He led Purdue in scoring with 18 points while grabbing 3 rebounds, shooting seven free throws after being continuously knocked to the ground in an attempt to score disputed layups.
Senior center Trevion Williams added 12 points and 2 rebounds, working against Michigan center Hunter Dickinson to provide a short burst of consistency in the post.
Purdue and Michigan players have faced off repeatedly trying to draw fouls, grab disputed rebounds and fend off screens against their conference rivals. Senior guard Sasha Stefanovic was sent to the sidelines after colliding with a Michigan defender, covering his face and writhing in pain as his Purdue teammates rushed to support him.
Williams saved for second-year center Zach Edey 40 seconds into the game after Edey fouled early. Where Purdue’s willingness to work the post against some of the Big Ten’s top centers worked against Illini center Kofi Cockburn, Dickinson’s height of 7-foot-1 and Diabate’s 6-foot-11 limited Williams and Edey on seven combined shots in the first half.
“When you’ve rebounded like we did (35-25) and you’ve doubled your turnovers (14-7) and you’re not shooting the ball well (44.0%) then you have to be very, very good on the defensive side if you want to have a chance to win the game and obviously we weren’t,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said at the post-game press conference. “When you watch all of that – mediocre shooting percentages, twice as many turnovers, we rebounded 10s, lots of defensive breakdowns, you’re going to get beaten pretty hard.”
While Purdue was down nine at halftime – 38-29 – it was outscored by 10 in the hallway, 26-16.
“We had breakdowns on the ball screen defense, we had breakdowns containing the balance, we had breakdowns on when we were supposed to double up and trap in the post – I could go on for a long time there above,” Painter said.
The Wolverines were even in scoring – all five starters were in double figures – and they shot 51.6% from the field at 32 of 62, including 57.1% from 3-point range, 12 of 21.
“They executed better. They were tougher than us. They were smarter than us. And they got shots.” said the painter.
The loss capped what could be considered a “week of upheaval” in the college basketball landscape. The Boilermakers joined No. 6 Houston and No. 7 Duke among others as five top-10 teams to suffer a loss to an unranked opponent this season. Arkansas upset No. 1 Auburn in an 80-76 overtime win after the Tigers danced to the Razorbacks logo before the game started.
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson, who scored a career-high 28 points against the Boilermakers in their last meeting, retired early with an apparent ankle injury. The sophomore managed to get stronger to return to the field a few minutes later before knocking down two long-range shots against the Boilermakers.
After a COVID-19 outbreak hit Michigan’s schedule, the game that was scheduled to take place in mid-January was rescheduled for tonight. This unique situation meant that Purdue faced Michigan twice in one week.
Purdue started the second half much like it finished the first, shooting 3 from 10 while allowing the Wolverines to start extending their second-half lead. Purdue’s past struggles defending the 3-point line were on full display, allowing Michigan guard Eli Brooks to score 8 points with 1:03 remaining in the half.
Michigan then went on a 9-0 run in just 1:32 to really put the game away. Coming back was an impossible feat as the Boilermakers ultimately fell 82-58. Purdue for the third time this year has been stormed by the court.
“I think we can bounce back,” Painter said of his team, “but it’s not won in a press conference. You don’t do this in a press conference, you have to do this on Sunday at 1 p.m. when we play again. must be ready to go.
“We haven’t had a lot of days off and stuff like that, but we don’t train very long, we prepare, we have experienced players. It’s just there for us (to recover quickly). It’s right there, but we’ve made it a lot harder for ourselves, there’s no doubt about that.”
Purdue will look to put this game behind them and focus on their next task on Sunday when they face Maryland (11-13, 3-10 Big Ten) at Mackey Arena at 1 p.m. This match will be broadcast on CBS.
• Purdue has now lost 6 of the last 7 games against Michigan in four seasons. The only win came last week, 82-76, at Mackey Arena.
• Coach Matt Painter is now 1-4 against Michigan coach Juwan Howard.
• Second-year reserve fullback Brandon Newman has made just his second appearance since the 23 January game against Northwestern where he played 12 minutes. Against the Wildcats game, he only played five minutes — four Thursday night against Michigan and one minute Feb. 2 at Minnesota. Newman hasn’t scored a point since Jan. 17 at Illinois when he scored three.
• Purdue’s 3-point shooting was poor against Michigan. It was 4 out of 18 from long range. Mason Gillis, who shot 47.4% on the season, was 0 of 4 Thursday night at Michigan. No Boilermaker hit more than 1 from long range – Jaden Ivey was 1 of 4, Sasha Stefanovic was 1 of 5, Caleb Furst was 1 of 3 and Ethan Morton was 1 of 3.
• Purdue shot 11% from 3 in the first half and 33% in the second. Michigan shot 43% in the first and 64 in the second.
• Purdue hit a season low of 22.2% 3 points away, 4 of 18. The four 3s were also a season low. The previous low was five 3 and 23.8 percent shooting against North Carolina State on Dec. 12, an 82-72 overtime win.
• Michigan’s Eli Brooks was 4 of 4 of 3 while Caleb Houstan and Hunter Dickinson were 4 of 6.
• Purdue had a season-low five assists, while Michigan had 21. The season-low was 10 in a loss to Rutgers.
• Michigan’s starters scored 80 of his 82 points. Only Brandon Johns Jr. scored off the bench.
• Purdue led the game by 38 seconds while Michigan was ahead 36:34.
• All Michigan starters have played more than 30 minutes. By comparison, Purdue only had one player – Jaden Ivey, who played 32 – play more than 30 minutes.
• Trevion Williams recorded two rebounds, his lowest level of the season. Sasha Stefanovic had a season-low three points and failed to score in double figures for three straight games. Jaden Ivey hasn’t registered an assist for the first time this season. Isaiah Thompson was held scoreless for Game 8 this season.
• Purdue’s next opponent – Maryland – has lost four consecutive games in Sunday’s competition at Mackey. Thursday night, the Terps gave up 110 points in a 110-87 loss to Iowa in College Park, Maryland. Just nine days ago, Maryland lost just two to then-No. 13 Michigan State, 65-63, and on Jan. 21 beat then-No. 17 Illinois, 81-65 .