Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 04, 2018 7:00 pm

No. 15 Michigan 75, No. 8 Purdue 66: Quick thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

I wrote before the game that it would be imperative for Purdue to get Isaac Haas established in the post early. The Boilermakers (28-6) did exactly that, as the 7-foot-2 center scored the first seven points for his team, all in the post. Unfortunately, other offense was difficult to come by early for the Boilers. Carsen Edwards missed his first four shots and the Boilers didn't make a 3-pointer until 4:10 remained in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines (28-7) executed well on offense in the early going, repeatedly exploiting the mismatch problems that 6-11 forward Moritz Wagner creates. Haas guarded Wagner and the versatile Wolverine pulled him away from the rim, allowing Michigan to get easy shots in the paint in the first eight minutes. Barely six minutes into the game, Michigan led 16-9.

Haas continued to dominate in the post, however, despite Michigan's efforts to show help without actually sending a double team. The all-conference big man had 11 of Purdue's first 19 points and helped the Boilermakers close the gap to as few as three at 22-19 with 8:26 left in the first half. Michigan could have stretched its lead further, but it missed multiple wide-open 3-pointers, including four straight during one stretch.

In the final minutes of the half, with Wagner on the bench, Wolverine sophomore center Jon Teske made a handful of big plays to keep his team in front. He scored twice on long jumpers off pick-and-rolls and finished inside when he had the chance. Teske came in averaging 3.3 points per game, but had a game-high 12 in the first half and the Wolverines led at the break 38-33. 

Teske was also influential on the defensive end, making post scoring difficult for Haas and helping to keep Wagner out of foul trouble. In the final minutes of the first half, Michigan coach John Beilein played a clever two-man game, putting Teske in when Michigan was on defense and subbing Wagner back into the lineup when the Wolverines went on offense after a dead ball. Importantly, the Wolverines did not to turn the ball over at all in the first half.

Early in the second half, the Wolverines tightened their grip on the game. Zavier Simpson, who was a playmaker all day for Michigan from the point guard position, scored in the lane, dished to a wide-open Wagner for a layup and then drilled a 3 in transition, all in the span of 2:16. The 3-pointer gave the Wolverines their largest lead to that point at 48-37 and left Purdue searching for answers with just 15 minutes left.

Near the 12-minute mark, Wagner made back-to-back 3-pointers, extending the Wolverine lead to 56-42. The 14-point deficit was the largest Purdue had faced all season. The margin eventually reached 18 at 66-48 with 6:02 remaining. That span encompassed the larger part of a Purdue field goal drought that lasted more than seven minutes. 

The Boilers made one final run in the final minutes of the game, slicing their deficit to just 73-65 with 1:30 left after an 11-3 run. They flustered Michigan a bit with a full-court trap press and the Wolverines missed some key free throws. Purdue couldn't get a basket in the last minute, however, and Michigan hung on to beat the Boilermakers for the second straight season in the Big Ten Tournament.

Player of the Game: Moritz Wagner

The 6-11 Wagner was a mismatch nightmare for the Boilermakers all afternoon, posting up smaller defenders and driving past Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms. The German finished with 17 points, including 10 in the second half on 4 for 5 shooting. His eight straight points early in the half were key in giving the Wolverines an insurmountable lead. He went 3 for 6 from beyond the arc.

Facts and Figures

Michigan wins its second straight Big Ten title and third overall. ... Purdue falls against Michigan after beating the Wolverines twice during the regular season. ... Matt Painter, John Beilein and Tom Izzo remain the only three active Big Ten coaches to have won a conference regular season or tournament title. ... Carsen Edwards averaged 27.6 points over his previous five games, but had just 12 on 4 for 16 from the field against Michigan. ... With his 3-pointer at 13:20, Dakota Mathias became the all-time leader in 3-pointers at Purdue, breaking a tie with E'Twaun Moore. After a 1-for-5 day beyond the arc, Mathias has 244 3s in his Boilermaker career. ... The Boilermakers' four seniors scored a combined 41 points, putting them over 5,000 for their career. ... Michigan won its eighth straight Big Ten Tournament game and becomes the third team to win back-to-back Big Ten Tournaments. ... The Wolverines came in second in the nation with just 9.3 turnovers and did not give the ball away until 15:06 remained. Michigan finished with just five turnovers overall. ... Haas led Purdue with 23 points. Nojel Eastern had a career-high 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting.

What's Next?

The Boilermakers now have a week until they learn their seed in the NCAA tournament. They will most likely be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, but the NCAA Selection Show on TBS at 6 p.m. next Sunday will have the official announcement.