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Takeaways from Michigan’s loss to Purdue

This one was never very close

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines had their hands full against the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers Tuesday night, and U-M was overmatched on both ends, losing at Mackey Arena, 99-67. With a 32-point margin, this was the most lopsided loss in the Juwan Howard era.

The Boilermakers have been one of the best teams in the country, so this was truly a tough test on the road. Zach Edey is a Player of the Year candidate, the Boilermakers are one of the best three-pointing shooting teams (39.3 percent, 10th in all of college basketball), and they have impressive wins on their resume over Tennessee (No. 7 at the time), Marquette (No. 4), Arizona (No. 1) and Illinois (No. 9).

This one was never close after the first few minutes of gameplay. Despite playing good defense on Purdue’s best player, the Wolverines couldn’t create shots and couldn’t get enough stops to make up for that.

Here are the takeaways from an ugly loss for the Wolverines.

Creating shots without Dug is hard

As we saw in the loss to Maryland the last time they didn’t have Dug McDaniel, the Wolverines struggled to create open shots for themselves.

Ball movement wasn’t terrible, but it was tough for Michigan players to create separation, and the Wolverines settled for a lot of difficult, contested jumpers, the majority of which fell well short. The Wolverines went almost six game minutes in the first half (13:14-7:29) without a point because of their ineffective offensive play. Overall, they only made 33.8 percent of their shots, including just 29 percent of their shots in the first half.

Without their leading scorer, the Wolverines don’t have enough players on the floor who can consistently create their own shots. That made offense really hard to come by for the Wolverines.

Defending Zach Edey is also hard, but Michigan didn’t do terrible

Michigan was working at a size deficit all night long thanks to the 7-foot-4 center. The Wolverines doubled and sometimes triple-teamed the big man when he caught the ball.

I have to give credit where credit is due; sophomore Tarris Reed Jr. was pretty good defensively on him, staying physical and not allowing Edey to get deep positioning in the paint. Reed struggled with foul trouble and eventually fouled out, but he forced more than a few misses from Edey and he certainly never made life easy for him. I liked how Reed wasn’t afraid to go right at Edey on the other end, and he did manage to score six points and grab 10 boards.

Overall, the Wolverines didn’t let Edey beat them, limiting the star big man to 16 points — well below his 23.3 points per game average — including just six points in the first half. But Purdue can beat you in so many other ways, with an ultra-efficient offense that moves the ball like the mid-2010s Spurs and knocks down threes at a high clip; the Boilermakers shot 66.7 percent from three and rank 10th in the nation with a 39.3 three-point percentage.

Michigan’s inconsistent defensive rotations and on-ball defense helped the Boilermakers build a big lead and never look back.

Another solid night by Llewellyn

It appears Jaelin Llewellyn is getting healthier, and every night he plays this season, he looks more comfortable out there.

Llewellyn played his best half of basketball all season, and perhaps in his whole Michigan career, in the first half by scoring 10 points. He shot the ball well by using his craftiness to get to the rim, and he served as the only consistent source of offense for most of this one.

Llewellyn did finish this one with a team-high 16 points, a new high mark since coming to Michigan. Unfortunately, he did turn the ball over a little too much and succumbed to some aggressive on-ball defense from the Boilermakers.

We’ve seen so little of Llewellyn at Michigan with his knee injury from last year, and makes sense why the Wolverines are taking things slow with him. In spurts, Llewellyn can be quite effective as a scorer.

A few career-highs for Michigan reserves

While it’s tough to find bright spots in a blowout like this, Jace Howard was pretty solid in this one. He had a career-high seven points, was aggressive with the ball when he needed to and moved the ball well, including a nice dish to Reed on the pick-and-roll. Freshman guard George Washington III also scored a career-high 10 points, albeit they were all once the game was well out of hand in the second half. While they were garbage time minutes, any minutes are a positive for Washington to get reps.

Up next

The Wolverines have two games in the next seven days. They host the Iowa Hawkeyes, one of the two Big Ten teams Michigan has already beaten, on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. (FS1). Three days later, they make the drive to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans at 9 p.m. (Peacock).