Free Press sports writers Nick Baumgardner and Orion Sang dissect Michigan’s 76-57 win over Purdue, Dec. 1, 2018 at Crisler Center.
Orion Sang and Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press
No. 7 Michigan basketball went over five minutes in the second half of Saturday’s game against No. 19 Purdue without scoring.
Yet when sophomore forward Isaiah Livers stepped to the free-throw line with 9:22 left, Michigan’s lead stood at 16.
The Wolverines (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) blitzed the Boilermakers (5-3, 0-1) in the first half, taking a 16-point lead into halftime thanks to lights-out shooting and smooth ball movement.
And when the offense did slow down in the second half, Purdue still couldn’t close the gap because of Michigan’s defense, as the Wolverines pulled away, 76-57.
The Wolverines have now played three ranked opponents this season. And they’ve blown out all three by 17 points or more. This is, right now, one of the elite teams in college basketball.
Three takeaways from Crisler Center:
When Michigan’s offense is on, good luck
Purdue’s defensive strategy was to switch every screen, and Michigan made the Boilermakers pay.
The Wolverines’ offense moved the ball well and found plenty of open looks on the perimeter, which led to Michigan making 9-for-15 3-point attempts in the first half.
And when bigger players such as Matt Haarms or Evan Boudreaux got switched onto junior point guard Zavier Simpson and sophomore guard Jordan Poole, Michigan’s guards took advantage of the mismatch by attacking their slower, bigger defenders off the dribble.
Saturday’s 44-point first-half performance was an offensive clinic, and was one of the best halves Michigan’s offense has put together all season.
Couple that with the nation’s top defense, and the Wolverines are hard to beat right now.
Poole provides instant offense
Poole lit Purdue up from the opening tip.
The sophomore guard entered Saturday’s game averaging 10.1 points per game, shooting 40.6 from 3, and was coming off an 18-point performance after hitting 4-of-5 3s in the second half of Wednesday’s 84-67 win over North Carolina.
Poole scored 13 points off 5-for-6 shooting in the first half against the Boilermakers, while making all 3 of his 3-point attempts. He finished with a game-high 21 on 8-of-9 shooting while making all five of his 3-point attempts.
He’s been on a tear recently after shooting just 10 percent on 3s through Michigan’s first three games.
Poole didn’t just make his mark shooting the ball, though. He was consistent in attacking Purdue’s guards and bigs off the dribble, and had a nifty drive along the baseline before finishing with an up-and-under layup near the beginning of the second half.
Simpson, U-M shut down Carsen Edwards
Purdue’s star point guard entered Saturday’s game averaging 25.1 points on 44 percent shooting.
Edwards was the Boilermakers’ entire offense. He used a lot of the team’s possessions, he took a lot of the team’s shots — and he made a lot, too.
But Simpson and the Wolverines cooled him off. Michigan forced Edwards to take plenty of contested shots, and didn’t give him any clean looks from 3.
Edwards had a rough day, scoring 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting. He had five turnovers to just three assists. And his teammates weren’t able to pick up the slack. Purdue had just two other players who scored more than five points.
Contact Orion Sang: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang.