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Purdue Returns to Form, Beats Michigan 87-70

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A strong second half performance and great senior leadership sparked Purdue.

"I feel pretty" Kendall Stephens
"I feel pretty" Kendall Stephens
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue basically went into today's game against Michigan needing a win. Not because they are teetering on being out of the tournament discussion, not because they are in a win or go home scenario, but because they had faltered in two pretty high profile games of late. The late collapse at Iowa was a terrible taste to leave in their mouths. Tonight, Purdue responded and then some by defeating short-handed Michigan by nearly twenty points. How did Purdue make such a huge turnaround from one game to the next? Keep reading to find out! You won't believe what happens next! Other B1G coaches hate this plan!

John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG)- I know the easy pick here is A.J. Hammons who had one hell of a game with 17 points, 5 boards, and 4 blocks but that's not the route I'm gonna take. Rapheal Davis is the winner tonight. He finished up 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was also 6-6 from the free throw line. He also had a heck of a game defensively on Duncan Robinson (3-8). Davis commented after the Iowa game that he was disappointed in his leadership during the game but he truly stepped it up tonight.

The announcers mentioned this during the game but for those unable to watch it truly was strength vs. strength in this matchup. Purdue is, statistically at least, a great defensive team while Michigan is one of the best three point shooting teams out there. Purdue basically dared Michigan to beat them from deep while Purdue was content on the offensive end to pound the ball inside with their overwhelming size advantage.

The first half was the typical Purdue affair with Purdue immediately struggling out of the gate but then surging back. It was a first half of runs with Purdue using a 12-0 run punctuated by some stellar play by Vince Edwards and a three pointer by PJ Thompson to finish the run. Purdue started the run down 23-19 but finished it up 31-23. The most impressive piece of this run was the play of Vince Edwards. Edwards scored four points and assisted on two additional plays that included the three pointer and a three point play. That means Edwards had a hand in 10 of the 12 points scored on this run. He also grabbed two rebounds. That's how you bolster your stat sheet in a hurry.

The bonehead play of the game came from P.J. Thompson who, with less than 10 seconds left in the half, drove and threw up a final shot that he missed and gave Michigan the ball with around 4 seconds left. Michigan took the ball the length of the court and wound up with two free throws. It was a bit of an ugly end to the first half and Painter let Thompson have it on the sideline. Other than that though Thompson had a great game.

Probably the most impressive aspect of the game was the way that Purdue continuously pounded the ball inside with their bigs, and also drove the lane efficiently with some nice dunks by Hill and Stephens (surprisingly). Purdue had 24 points in the paint in the first half alone. In the second half Purdue added 18 more to finish with 42 points in the paint. That's a rather impressive stat. The only way you can get numbers like that is with some great passing and Purdue had that in spades tonight. On their 30 made field goals Purdue recorded 26 assists. That's an incredible percentage in case you didn't know.

The game continued to ebb and flow back and forth thanks to Michigan continuing to shoot the ball from three with a high percentage, 41%, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman absolutely playing out of his mind. The guy had a career day against Purdue, as people tend to do, going for 25 points on 10-16 shooting. The rest of Michigan meanwhile shot 13-45. That's not a great percentage for those of you who aren't great at math. MAAR really put Michigan on his back today and allowed this game to be a close one. As so often is the case this season Purdue caused an opponent to tire as the second half drug on and Purdue was able to extend their lead up to 20 points. Let's take a look at some quick hits.

  • Purdue was 18-21 on free throws tonight which was huge.
  • Purdue was much better from distance going 9-18 for a rock solid 50%.
  • Purdue outrebounded Michigan 36-28.
  • P.J. was 3-4 from the floor including 2-2 from three.
  • Purdue committed just nine turnovers tonight rectifying a major issue from the Iowa game.
  • Purdue's final shooting percentage was 56% compared to 37% for Michigan. That's how you win ballgames.
Purdue still isn't where all of us want them to be but it was a nice response from the Iowa game. Purdue faced a little bit of a trap at halfcourt but maintained their composure much better this team. We all knew Purdue wasn't going to go through conference season undefeated so maybe a good kick in the butt was necessary. Purdue looked like a much different team for the majority of this game than it did in the second half of Iowa. Purdue has a lot of work to do but tonight they took a step in the right direction.

Oh, and then there was this.