The Michigan Wolverines took on the number one ranked Purdue Boilermakers at Crisler arena on Thursday evening. Michigan desperately needed a win to improve their conference record, but also as a confidence booster for a team that has heavily underperformed. Michigan was also without guard Jett Howard, who is the team’s second-leading scorer.
Although missing the scoring of Howard, the Wolverines started this game aggressively. Their defense was better, though still not great. The score went back and forth until Purdue went on a 13-0 run beginning at about the seven-minute mark. The Boilermakers quickly turned a 28-28 tie into a 41-28 advantage, though Michigan then scored the final seven points of the half to head into the break down 41-35.
Hunter Dickinson led the Wolverines at the half with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Guard Dug McDaniel looked better in Howard’s absence, adding five points and four rebounds at the half. However, Purdue was more prepared and showed stretches of dominance in the first half. Purdue center Zach Edey had 15 points and four rebounds, and Purdue shot 51 percent from the field compared to 38 percent for Michigan.
Purdue was aggressive to begin the second half, building an 11-point lead within the first five minutes. However, the Wolverines never backed down. Kobe Bufkin was a big offensive presence for Michigan to begin the half, scoring nine points before the under-12 timeout. The Wolverines pulled to within five with eight minutes remaining thanks to a Joey Baker three and short jumper from McDaniel.
But Purdue never relented. Freshman guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith played well beyond their years, chipping in 27 points. And bench performances from David Jenkins Jr. helped Purdue cap off the victory. Michigan continued to battle. Baker hit another three with nine seconds left, making the score 73-70. But Purdue guard Brandon Newman calmly hit two free throws to cap off 75-70 Purdue victory.
Purdue’s shooting was the ultimate difference. They shot 54 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three, and 80 percent at the free-throw line.
Dickinson finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Bufkin followed with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. And Baker helped off the bench with 11 points and three clutch threes.
With the loss, the Michigan Wolverines move to 11-9 on the season and 5-4 in conference play. Their next game is Sunday at Penn State.
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