Ann Arbor — Michigan coach John Beilein made it a priority to not become Purdue’s latest long-range victim.
More specifically, Beilein had one main goal: Don’t allow Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline to torch them for the eight combined 3-pointers they’ve been averaging this season.
The Wolverines — Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson, in particular — proved to be up to the task, holding the duo to just 4-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc in Saturday’s 76-57 win in the Big Ten opener.
"I've never seen two guys coming in and averaging four 3s a game,” Beilein said. “Charles is not happy Cline got three, but he only got one off in the second half. And Carsen, Zavier embraces that. That's how he can really show what a good player he is. (Carsen) has been averaging four and he only got one, so that was part of the game plan. I think it's a part of a lot of people's game plans to make sure their good shooters don't get open looks.”
Edwards and Cline entered Saturday’s matchup as the only teammates in the nation with at least 25 made 3-pointers. They were shooting 39.4 percent and 44.4 percent, respectively, from beyond the arc and were attempting a combined 19 3-pointers per game.
But neither was able to get much separation and room to breathe with Matthews and Simpson in their shadow all game long. Edwards finished 1-for-5 from 3-point range, while Cline made a team-high three 3s on five attempts.
It went a long way in helping thwart Purdue’s 3-point attack, which was tied for 10th in the nation in made 3-pointers (84), ranked 11th nationally in 3-point attempts (217) and had made at least 11 3s in six of its seven games this season.
The Boilermakers finished 9-for-24 from beyond the arc, with only Cline and forward Aaron Wheeler (2-for-2) making more than one 3-pointer.
“We missed some. Iggy (Brazdeikis) went underneath a screen one time, and we lost Cline, Isaiah (Livers) stood there and watched Cline,” Beilein said. “Wheeler, we didn't expect that out of him. Those were deep 3s and he got two there. It's really hard as people find out with us to defend a five who can shoot it, so (Matt Haarms) hitting that one was sort of different.
“Our thing was that Edwards and Cline were not making eight today. And they made four total, so that sort of was our mindset going in."
Sophomore guard Jordan Poole said there was a major emphasis on staying alert on switches and communicating in practice to prepare for Purdue’s 3-point prowess.
But like Beilein, Poole said the Wolverines gave up some looks they shouldn’t have and the team has plenty of work to do when it comes to “hand down, man down 3s.”
“We knew they were going to be aggressive just like North Carolina. They love to get out in transition,” Poole said. “We knew that they were a huge 3-point shooting team and the coach kind of gives them the green light with Carsen Edwards and Cline, and they're able to shoot the ball from anywhere, especially on the break.
"They love hand down, man down 3s, so I think North Carolina was a huge segue and a really good prep for us to come out and defend a team like that."
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
Poole’s 3-point party
Don’t look now but Poole is starting to dial it in from 3-point range.
After starting the season 1-for-10 from beyond the arc, Poole is shooting 63 percent (17-for-27) over the past five games and has made at least five 3-pointers in three separate contests, including Saturday's 5-for-5 outing.
When asked what’s different, Poole said nothing has changed and he’s simply staying the course.
“Some are going to go in or they're not. Me and Coach Dre (DeAndre Haynes) always find ways I can get my shots and being able to work it out, they're going to fall eventually,” he said. “It was early in the season and I didn’t know where I was going to get my shots from and how they were looking. Just stay confident and I worked so hard in the gym and I’m being able to knock down shots as a result.”
Poole said he didn’t know he tied a career high with made five 3-pointers against Purdue until after the game and didn’t have a hunch in warm-ups he was going to have a hot hand.
“I feel like I wake up and it's going in today,” he said. “That's what I tell myself — wake up and make shots because if you come in with a different mindset like, ‘I hope they go in today,’ that would be negative. I wake up like, 'I'm going to drop them today,' and come out with a positive mindset.”
Michigan altered its pregame hype video that used to only feature former Fab Five member Jalen Rose. The updated video includes appearances from former Wolverines Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Moritz Wagner.
… Michigan improved to 59-43 in Big Ten openers and 34-20 at home.
...Saturday's 19-point win is Michigan's largest margin of victory against Purdue since Jan. 16, 1997 (89-65 win).