Not much went right for the Michigan Wolverines when they traveled down to West Lafayette to take on Purdue last week. The Boilermakers senior duo of Carl Landry and David Teague punished the Maize & Blue with 22 and 21 points respectively en route to handing Michigan its first conference loss of the season. Particularly troubling to Tommy Amaker after the game was the fact that his squad allowed the Purdue to shoot 56.5% from the field. That was due in large part to Landry's effectiveness inside. The Wolverines allowed the 6-7, 245-lb forward to establish position too deep in the paint and he frequently capitalized on those opportunities. That then freed things up for Teague on the perimeter. Amaker stressed to his club that a winning effort this time around depended on doing better defensively, and his players went out and responded in impressive fashion.
The improved defense was on display from the opening tip. The interior players did a better job of denying Landry position in the post, which helped the Wolverines hold the visitors to a single field goal in the first five minutes. Meanwhile, Michigan was clicking on all cylinders on the other end of the floor. Brent Petway opened the scoring for the home team with a lay-up and a dunk, then Dion Harris and Lester Abram each nailed three-pointers to put Michigan up 10-2.
The Wolverines maintained an eight-point advantage until a scoring drought of almost six minutes allowed Purdue to turn the tables and go up 21-16. Michigan finally snapped the scoreless streak with an alley-oop from Jerret Smith to Ron Coleman at the 5:45 mark. Smith continued to spark the Wolverines down the stretch with special deliveries to Courtney Sims and Ekpe Udoh for buckets before adding a free throw of his own to help Michigan outscore the visitors 7-2 down the in the waning moments of the half up to send them into the break up 25-23.
When the Wolverines emerged from the locker room, they went right back to work. An aerial connection between Harris and Petway for an emphatic slam swung the early momentum to the side of the home team, and then Smith stepped in to help keep it on the side of the Maize & Blue. The sophomore point guard found teammates open behind the three-point line on Michigan's next three field goals (including back to back triples from Dion Harris). He followed that up by taking the basketball coast to coast for a lay-up to cap off a 13-2 run that put the Wolverines up 42-30 with 14:14 to go in the game. Purdue fought back, cutting the lead below double figures, but Smith scored six of the next nine Michigan points, two of which came on a pull-up jumper in transition from just inside the three-point line, to help balloon the lead to 16 (51-35) with 10:33 to go. The lead didn't fall below twelve the rest of the game and the Wolverines went on to win the contest 71-55. After the game Amaker said that was a different Jerret Smith than any one he had seen here previously.
"I thought he played with such a look on his face that was incredibly positive," Michigan's sixth year headman said. "He was very confident on the floor, he had a great bounce and energy about him this afternoon. I think because he finished the Penn State game very well -- he shot it well -- he was very confident coming in to today's game. He played that way throughout the game and I was incredibly impressed. He drove it down one time and pulled up and shot the three on the break and buried it and I think that's the kind of confidence he had today. We're proud of how he played because we needed that kind of effort."
On the game Dion Harris led four Wolverines in double figures with21 points and five assists. Jerret Smith finished with a career high 11 points to go along with seven assists. David Teague and Carl Landry each finished with 15 points respectively for the Boilermakers. For more on the contest, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes.
Next up for Michigan is a road match-up with the 3rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers in a battle for a share of first place in the conference race. The two teams will square off for the only time this season Wednesday at 8 PM CST.