Takeaways From Michigan's First Win At Mackey Arena In Six Years
A career-high from Franz Wagner, the return of Isaiah Livers, and Jon Teske's offensive rebound propel the Wolverines at Purdue.
What a week for the Wolverines
Michigan basketball's 71-63 win at West Lafayette on Saturday capped off quite the week. Last Sunday the Wolverines posted one of their most dominant wins ever against Indiana. Then on Wednesday Michigan dealt Rutgers its first home loss of the season. That's three impressive efforts in six days, including two quad-1 road wins (and first in West Lafayette in six years). This is a team rounding into form and hitting its stride.
Michigan defense is in lockdown mode
It's not often you go on the road to what is historically one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten, and win comfortably despite shooting only 38% -- including a paltry 6-of-25 from three. However, when you're playing the kind of defense that Michigan currently is, you don't need that many points to win. Trevion Williams had a career performance back in January at Crisler, and his 18 points and 10 rebounds stat line on Saturday still looks pretty good. Except Williams needed to take 25 shots to score those 18 points. Purdue's other big, Matt Haarms, only had four points. And a Boilermakers squad that came in ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in three-point shooting at home, was held to just 4-of-16 (25%) from beyond the arc. The Wolverines are up to 16th in the nation in defensive efficiency at KenPom.
Jon Teske's offensive rebound
We've already seen Teske pick it back up on the defensive end of the floor since Isaiah Livers' return, but on Saturday he played his best offensive game in quite some time. Though Teske only had 11 points, his five field goals were his most makes since January 17th at Iowa. And he saw the floor as well. Teske's four assists were more than any Boilermaker had.
A new career high for Franz Wagner.
After scoring a career-high 22 points on Saturday, Wagner could be in line for yet another Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor. Perhaps even more important was Wagner had his best three-point shooting percentage (60%) in Big Ten play. Given all the ways he can beat you (and he's become a defensive menace, too), if Wagner keeps shooting from the perimeter like that opponents are in real trouble. Heck, they're already in real trouble with Wagner now.
First half runs were key
Michigan started the game unable to hit water from a boat, but then overcame an early deficit with a 14-2 run. After the Boilermakers got within four late in the first half, Michigan Coach Juwan Howard called a timeout to stem the momentum. The Wolverines responded by closing the half on a 15-4 run. Those two stretches eventually ended up being the difference in the game. Purdue wouldn't recover, and except for a few brief gasps the home crowd was never back into it.
Most in the Big Ten
Michigan is now tied with Wisconsin for the most quad-1 wins in the Big Ten with seven, and should get a nice boost in the NET rankings as well, courtesy of a fourth straight win on the road.
February surge continues
The Wolverines improved to 22-7 in February dating back to 2017, and have surged to within a game out of third place in the Big Ten. It wasn't too long again Michigan was in 12th place in the standings.
Eli Brooks' injury
Michigan's junior combo guard was the victim of a freak head-banging with Purdue's Nojel Eastern, and he got the worst of it. Brooks was forced to leave the game early in the second half with a brutal nose injury, and didn't return. There's no update yet on the severity, but Howard assured us after the game "he's still handsome."
One trend to rule them all