Same Old Woes For Purdue In 71-63 Loss to Michigan

Brett Douglas

West Lafayette, Ind. — The struggles that Purdue has faced most of the year, shooting and intensity, re-emerged Saturday against Michigan. The Boilermakers dropped their fourth consecutive game at an inopportune time with an NCAA bid still hanging in the balance.

Purdue jumped out to a 9-5 lead, but then their struggles kicked in on both sides of the floor. Michigan went on a 14-2 run to take control.

The Boilermakers clawed back with a 6-0 run of their own, with all the points coming in the paint. Michigan coach Juwan Howard used a timeout after seeing the lead for the Wolverines cut to 21-17. 

"It was too easy, we have to protect the paint," said Howard about the Purdue run. "I knew the crowd got really into it and kind of like brought a lot of energy into the building, so I think it was important for me to get our guys more organized."

It was a turning point in the game because Michigan proceeded to go on a 15-4 run to close the first half. Franz Wagner had eight points during the run and highlighted the Wolverines stat sheet scoring 22 points, a career high, on 9-13 shooting overall. 

"When you really look back on this game, that's the difference in the game. The last four minutes of the first half ends up being the difference in the game, in my opinion. We never get that back," Painter said.

Purdue's shooting woes continued and they struggled in the first half, only shooting 28% from the field and just 1-for-6 from behind the arc compared to Michigan's six first-half three pointers. 

In the second half, every Purdue run was answered by Michigan. Purdue shot a much improved 51% in the second half, but like all the games on this four-game skid, the production came a little too late.

Isaiah Livers, who missed the first meeting between these teams due to injury, scored 19 points for Michigan.

During this losing streak, Purdue has only lead for 6:08 of game time in four games. Painter and his players attributed the slide to a lack of fire and intensity being brought to the court. 

"The thing that's discouraging is the competitive part for us. We have too many people wallowing," Painter said.

"Our fight's got to be better," Trevion Williams said. "We've got to come out with a fight. There's nothing really to talk about. We talk so much about what we can do, what we need to do, we just need to do it at this point. It's tournament or no tournament at this point." 

Williams posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but he was just 8-for-21 shooting.

Sasha Stefanovic was a bright spot in the loss finishing with 13 points going a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc.

"I think it's the same thing that we've had through the course of the year, that when shots don't go down, or we can't pick up, whether that's the passion or the morale or whatever you to kind of catorgorize it, you know, just hanging our head and allowing one mistake lead to two and just simply compounding our mistakes," Painter said. 

Purdue, a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament field, has to have a quick improvement or they will continue to be on the outside looking in. They face Indiana on Thursday at Mackey Arena.