The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, January 22, 2021 9:30 pm

Purdue falls to No. 7 Michigan, 70-53, snaps four-game win streak

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Trevion Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double in four games and sixth of the season, but he found the going difficult offensively and Purdue's four-game winning streak came to an end with a 70-53 loss to No. 7 Michigan at Mackey Arena tonight.

Purdue is 11-6 and 6-4 in Big Ten play.

3 Takeaways

  • Missing Sasha hurt: Purdue was without guard Sasha Stefanovic, who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the game and will miss at least the next two contests. Stefanovic averages 11.1 points and is the Boilers' best 3-point shooter. It was that latter trait that the Boilermakers really missed tonight. Without Stefanovic to stretch the floor, Purdue had no credible outside threat and Michigan was able to focus much more of its attention inside. That helped the Wolverines limit Williams to one of his worst games of the season. Williams was just 6 for 19 from the field and just about every shot he took was well-contested. We've seen Williams slither his way around even some very good post defenses this season, but he struggled mightily against the Wolverines tonight. Without Stefanovic, the Boilermakers went 2 of 12 from beyond the arc and didn't have enough offensive firepower against the Wolverines' elite defense.
  • Jaden Ivey came back to earth: The freshman from Mishawaka was a hero after hitting a game-winning 3 against Ohio State on Tuesday and Purdue hoped that hitting such a big shot would help get him out of his shooting slump from the outside. After all, the Boilers said he's been making 3s in practice all year. Unfortunately, Ivey's shooting struggles did not end against the Buckeyes. He scored 12 points, but went just 3 for 14 from the field tonight and 0 for 5 from beyond the 3-point line. Of those misses, a couple of them were badly off line, barely grazing the rim. Worse, Ivey threw the ball out of bounds once and traveled another time. It was certainly not the performance he wanted in his first career start (he was in the lineup in place of Stefanovic). Of course, Michigan's elite perimeter defense and rim protection had plenty to do with his rough performance, but it's clear that Ivey still has a ways to go before he's a consistent in-game shooter. He remains a freshman, after all. With Stefanovic out, Purdue will have to hope he can bounce back quickly from this setback, because the Boilermakers will need him to provide scoring punch the next couple of weeks. It helped that Ivey chipped in five assists and five rebounds, contributing even as his shooting suffered.
  • Michigan is good. Very good: I mentioned Williams' struggles above, but it really was jarring to see a player who has been so dominant most of the season struggle to get anything going. That's what Michigan can do to its opponents and it's why the Wolverines are almost certainly the favorite in the Big Ten at this point, even ahead of Iowa. Michigan's defense is suffocating at all three levels, full of long, athletic, well-coached players and Purdue shooting just 31% from the field and 34% on 2-point attempts should really come as little surprise: the Wolverines have been doing this to teams all season. Purdue matched the Wolverines' physicality for the most part, which was encouraging to see, but it wasn't able to muster enough offense and there were too many breakdowns on defensive rotations to give the Boilermakers a real chance to win a slugfest. It was a rough game for Purdue, but Michigan has done much worse to opponents this season.

Player of the Game: Isaiah Livers

Michigan's future NBA forward showed off his complete game against the Boilermakers, scoring 22 points, shooting 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and grabbing 10 rebounds. He provided another inside presence for the Wolverines beyond centers Hunter Dickinson and Austin Davis and played a solid defensive game, registering two blocks. He also had three assists.

Tip-ins

Michigan entered the game in solo possession of first place in the Big Ten. ... The loss is Purdue's first of the season at Mackey Arena, dropping its home record to 6-1. ... The Big Ten Freshman of the Week has been from one of these two teams every week this season. Dickinson has won it five times this season and Zach Edey, Brandon Newman and Mason Gillis all have one each. ... Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Purdue is 22-23 against ranked opponents. The 22 wins are tied with Florida State for eighth in the country. ... Michigan had a 20-10 advantage in points off turnovers. ... The Boilermakers missed their last seven shots from the field.

What's Next?

The Boilermakers have a full week off before they take on No. 17 Minnesota (11-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at Mackey Arena. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 30 and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The long layoff for Purdue is the result of moving the Ohio State game, originally scheduled for Jan. 27, up to Tuesday of this week. It's possible Purdue could be scheduled to play Nebraska in this stretch if the Cornhuskers come back from their current COVID-19-mandated pause in team activities.

The Golden Gophers are one of the surprise teams in the Big Ten, boasting wins over Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. They are coming off a 75-57 win over the Wolverines, Michigan's only loss of the season to date.

dsinn@jg.net


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