Livers scores 22, Michigan extends Big Ten lead by suffocating Purdue
Michigan put an end to one streak and added to another.
Behind another 20-point performance from senior forward Isaiah Livers and another stout defensive effort, the No. 7 Wolverines derailed Purdue, 70-53, Friday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Livers finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Eli Brooks scored 11 for Michigan (13-1, 8-1 Big Ten), which used its fifth straight win over Purdue to create some distance atop the league standings.
The Boilermakers entered the matchup as the hottest team in the Big Ten, riding a four-game winning streak and boasting an unbeaten record at home. None of that fazed the Wolverines. Michigan held Purdue to its worst offensive outing of the season and led by double digits the final 26 minutes of the game.
"We wanted to make them feel uncomfortable for 94 feet for 40 minutes and that's what we did,” Brooks said. “We forced turnovers, we scored off turnovers and that was a big emphasis in the game plan."
Purdue had been a second-half team all season and had rallied from several double-digit deficits, but it didn’t come close to happening against Michigan. A 3-pointer from Livers less than a minute out of the break extended the lead to 39-21.
After Purdue fought back and used a run to cut the deficit to 10, Michigan turned up the pressure and flexed its defensive muscles to widen the gap. Sophomore wing Franz Wagner capped a string of six unanswered points with two free throws to make it 48-32 with 13:30 remaining.
The Wolverines continued to hold the Boilermakers at bay and never let them build any sort of momentum. When Purdue pulled within 12, senior guard Chaundee Brown immediately responded with a 3-pointer and shut the door.
The Boilermakers (11-6, 6-4) never threatened to cut it to single digits again and trailed by at least 13 the rest of the way.
"I think Michigan's experience, Michigan's toughness took us out of a lot of things,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We have to be tougher than we were tonight. We just didn't get a lot of production from really anybody, across the board. We had nobody that really played a consistent game tonight.”
Trevion Williams, a former Detroit Henry Ford Academy standout, had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Jaden Ivey scored 12 for Purdue, which was without second-leading scorer and starting guard Sasha Stefanovic. He missed the game after a positive COVID-19 test.
The Boilermakers shot a season-worst 30.8% from the field (20-for-65) and went 2-for-12 from beyond the arc. The 53 points were also a season low.
Williams, Purdue’s leading scorer, finished 6-for-19 from the field and struggled after putting up big numbers against Michigan’s defense last season.
“I thought Hunter (Dickinson) made every shot attempt Trevion took and challenged it,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “Trevion had to work for those six field goals. He's a load in there, but Hunter did a fantastic job of taking on that one-on-one challenge."
Added Brooks: "I think it was throwing a body for 40 minutes. That's tough on anybody. We pushed him off his spots and just made every shot difficult.”
The Wolverines pounced on the Boilermakers and set the defensive tone from the start, forcing Purdue to miss 12 of its first 14 shots while opening a 14-4 advantage with 12:22 left in the first half.
"We thrive off that,” Livers said. “We know coming into games to get us going it has to be defense, so our focus can't be on the offensive end.”
After freshman center Hunter Dickinson picked up his second foul at the 9:19 mark, Purdue managed to pull within 16-12 on a dunk by Zach Edey, whose 7-foot-4 frame provided some problems in the paint on both ends.
Even with Dickinson and fifth-year senior center Austin Davis sidelined with foul trouble, Michigan didn’t miss a beat and didn’t lose control. The Wolverines continued to clamp down, held the Boilermakers over five minutes with a made field goal, attacked the basket and used an 11-1 spurt to stretch the lead to 29-15 at the 3:34 mark.
By the time halftime arrived, Michigan led, 34-21, while holding Purdue without a made 3-pointer and to nearly as many turnovers (seven) as made baskets (nine).
“This is their first loss at home, and it wasn't easy,” Howard said. “This was a game that was built on physicality and it was an old-school Big Ten type of game.
“Our guys were battling and competing. Tomorrow morning, they're going to wake up sore because they earned it.”