I said it in my game preview earlier: Purdue was going to be a pest to deal with, and for the first twenty minutes of tonight’s game, that statement rang pretty true.
Michigan had struggled in the past against the Boilermakers, going 3-7 during John Beilein’s tenure. This was a team that had come into Crisler last year and beat the Wolverines convincingly.
But that was last season, and a lot has changed since then.
Purdue (10-9, 3-3 B1G) gave #2 ranked Michigan their best shot early, but not before the Wolverines tightened things up and ran away from the Boilermakers with a final score of 68-53.
Trey Burke led the Wolverines (18-1, 5-1 B1G) with 15 points and eight assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in with 13 of his own.
While this was a business-as-usual night for Burke and Hardaway, the true stars of this game in my opinion were the freshman duo of Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.
Purdue was able to keep the game close early, but it wasn’t until a monster dunk by Robinson near the end of the first half that the tide of the game turned in Michigan’s favor. The Wolverines seemed to ramp up the energy after that play and they came out of the locker room with some swagger. GR3 finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds against his father’s old team.
Mitch McGary continues to outplay Jordan Morgan in my mind. You tend to forget that Morgan is out there when he is in the lineup, but that is not the case with McGary. He was a key part of Michigan opening up their lead in the second half. He is always chasing down loose balls and his defense is superb. He makes all of the hustle plays that can fire up a team, and at home, get the crowd going.
As I wrote in the game preview, it was physical early, and it was going to take a good effort from guys like Robinson, McGary, and Nik Stauskas to put the Wolverines over the top in this game. The three freshman accepted the challenge and were a big reason for tonight’s win.
Michigan’s next game is Sunday on the road against the Illinois Fighting Illini (15-5, 2-4 B1G) at 6pm. With a win, they will be the top ranked team in the country when the polls are released Monday. Look for a preview for that game sometime on Saturday.