Michigan sophomore guard talks about the game plan and his performance in Saturday's 76-57 win over Purdue in the the Big Ten opener. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Villanova. Check.
North Carolina. Check.
No. 7 Michigan delivered another resounding statement and crushed another ranked foe by rolling past the No. 19 Boilermakers, 76-57, in the Big Ten opener Saturday at Crisler Center.
Sophomore forward Jordan Poole had 21 points and tied a career high with five made 3-pointers to lead Michigan (8-0), which led from start to finish, shot 13-for-26 from 3-point range and kept its streak of beating opponents by at least 17 points alive.
Junior center Jon Teske added 17 points and had a crucial 3-pointer — one of Michigan's two made field goals in the final 14:29 — that helped seal the win. Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis scored 12 and junior guard Zavier Simpson chipped in 10 points and seven assists while hounding preseason Big Ten player of the year Carsen Edwards.
"That's as good as we've played," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I guess Villanova would be a similar one, but that's as a good as we've played all year."
After Michigan cruised into halftime with a 16-point lead, the second half turned into an offensive shootout over the first five minutes. The Wolverines and Boilermakers traded basket after basket until Purdue was the first to blink, with Simpson making consecutive layups to push Michigan’s lead to 60-40 with 14:29 to go.
But just when it appeared like Michigan was in cruise control, the offense sputtered and cooled off significantly. Following Simpson's layup that made it a 20-point game, the Wolverines didn't score again until sophomore forward Isaiah Livers drew a foul and sank two free throws at the 9:22 mark.
Purdue did its best to chip away against Michigan's stout defense during the offense's lull, but could only muster a 3-pointer from Sasha Stefanovic and Aaron Wheeler over a three-minute stretch to close the gap to 62-50 with 6:55 to go.
That’s as close as it would get as Teske helped keep the Boilermakers at bay. After knocking down two free throws, he snapped a nine-minute field goal drought with his second 3-pointer of the game and Poole followed with another 3 to put the game out of reach at 70-50 with 4:53 remaining.
Michigan coach talks about his team's performance in Saturday's 76-57 win over Purdue in the Big Ten opener. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
"We still didn't finish (on offense), but I'm very proud because it's something that we're going to do no matter what the score is," Beilein said of his team's defense down the stretch, which held Purdue to 2-for-11 shooting over the final 6:55.
"But they're learning that sometimes you're not going to make a foul shot, you're going to turn it over, you're going to have a tough ref's call, but your defense can be the one constant. As long as we keep embracing that we can keep having success."
Edwards, who entered the game averaging 25.1 points per game, finished with 19 points on 7-for-21 shooting and Ryan Cline scored 15 for Purdue (5-3), which shot a season-low 35.5 percent (22-for-62) from the field and was held under 60 points for just the second time in three seasons.
Purdue came out with a defensive strategy to switch every screen and it didn't take long for Michigan to exploit it. The Wolverines abused mismatches and the Boilermakers' inability to stay in front of the ball, roaring out to a 13-4 lead and forcing a Purdue timeout just 3:44 into the game.
That did little to slow Michigan’s offense as it gave Purdue, which had made at least 11 3-pointers in each of its last five games, a taste of its own long-range medicine.
The Wolverines opened 6-for-7 from 3-point range before Teske stamped a 10-0 run with an alley-oop slam over Cline to make it 31-16 with 10:23 left in the first half.
"We wanted to switch some things and take them out there, but we had to be clean with our switches. We just weren't disciplined enough in what we were doing and they picked us apart," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Then after that, you're playing from behind so it's really hard. You're going to have some mismatch isos when they break you down off the dribble, but they were getting us when it was guard on guard at times so it's like we had to do a better job of containing the dribble and making it hard for them.
"They were going to make some plays how we were defending it, but they got hot, made some shots and you have to give them credit. They're a good team."
The teams hit a stalemate until Edwards tipped in his own missed shot to snap scoreless streak at the 6:34 mark, and Purdue threatened to cut it to single digits after Gray Eifert’s layup pulled the Boilermakers within 36-25 with 3:40 left in the half.
Sophomore guard Eli Brooks and Brazdeikis answered with Michigan's eighth and ninth 3-pointers of the half as the Wolverines led 44-28 at the break and never looked back en route to adding another top-25 win to its resume.
"I was really proud of our kids the way they are handling all this," Beilein said. "We're going to keep it going but the same way we've been doing it. Every day just go into practice with great humility, with great work habits, work ethic and get ready for our next game.
"We just got to keep going day by day."