The Wolverines returned to the Crisler Center floor tonight to avenge last season's brutal home loss against the Boilermakers, Michigan's only loss at Crisler last season.
Trey Burke was determined not to allow history to repeat itself early. He drove around the corner on a high ball screen and hit an open Nik Stauskas in the corner for three. On the next possession, he zoomed from about half court all the way to the basket for a left-handed layup, once again looking like Denard Robinson if you put a basketball in his hands.
Michigan was a bit sloppy on the defensive glass, however, and Purdue was hitting its shots early; a Terone Johnson trey put PU up 11-8 about four minutes into the game. In terms of shot volume, the Boilers had the edge, with eight field goal attempts to Michigan's three in the early stages.
The play picked up speed, and it didn't work out too well for Michigan, as Purdue rattled off a brief run that put them up 16-9. Needless to say, Michigan was not playing good or composed basketball on either end of the floor. Even Nik Stauskas airballed a three short after getting beat by D.J. Byrd from well downtown at the other end.
At the same time, there was always the sense that Purdue probably couldn't keep that shooting pace up and Michigan would eventually orient itself after living in the gravity-less void that was "not playing for a week."
I'm not sure what percentage of the first half can be chalked up to things like "rust," but everything about the Wolverines just looked slightly off, like a painting in the Louvre tilted slightly to the right or the left. It still looks like the work you've always known, but there's a slight degree of difference that yields some level of optical discomfort.
With all this being said, Michigan retook the lead, 24-23, less than 14 minutes into the first frame. So, it was shaping up to be a classic "that wasn't very good but hey it's all relative" sort of half.
Other than a general lack of cohesion, Michigan could not quite finish around the basket in the first half. Mitch McGary, who contributed many a crunkly play in the first half, went 0-3 from the field despite every attempt being within a few feet of the basket. Those putbacks not only slow the game down, they can be fairly demoralizing for the opponent.
It was a first half marked by a gradual return to form, but a Glenn Robinson III thunderdunk after faking the handoff on the left wing, was a reminder that this is, in fact, Michigan. You know, the hypertalented high-flying team that will occasionally dunk in your face. Yes, that one.
Still, Michigan trailed going into the half for the first time at Crisler this season.
Halftime Stats (Michigan 32, Purdue 33)
Michigan PPP: 1.05
- Burke: 3-7, 7 pts, 4 assists
- GRIII: 2-4, 6 pts, 6 rebounds
- THJ: 2-6, 6 pts, 1 block
Purdue PPP: 0.94
- Byrd: 4-8 (3-7 from 3), 11 pts
- T. Johnson: 3-7, 8 pts
- R. Johnson: 1-5, 3 pts, 4 assists