WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The No. 22-ranked University of Michigan men's basketball team dropped an 84-70 road decision at Purdue, Saturday (Feb. 11), at Mackey Arena. The Wolverines (16-6, 6-5 Big Ten) were thin on the perimeter due to injury and illness and the Boilermakers (9-14, 3-9 Big Ten) took full advantage. Michigan fell into a deep hole early as Purdue pressured hard down low to force the outside shot. As the Wolverines struggled, coming away with just 36.7 percent (18-of-49) from the floor, the Boilermakers built up a big lead care of 61.2 percent (30-of-49) shooting, which allowed them to ride the clock to victory.
The Wolverines traveled to Purdue without junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS), who suffered an ankle injury against Ohio State (Feb. 9), senior wing Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS), who remains out due to an ankle injury suffered at Minnesota (Jan. 21), and guard Jerret Smith (Romulus, Mich./Romulus Mich.), who is recovering from mononucleosis. With those two starters and one key player off the bench unable to play, many Wolverine perimeter players showed their ability to step up when needed.
Sophomore Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) continued to show his strength and ability, making his sixth-straight start in the absence of Abram. Coleman led the Wolverines with a career-best-tying 18 points, matching another career best with four from beyond the arc, and showing his ability to hit the long-range shots as the Boilermakers were pressuring down low. Coleman played a season-high 35 minutes for the second-straight game, shooting 6-of-12 from the floor while bringing down seven boards.
Senior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) was the other Michigan player in double digits, keeping the Wolverines alive for the majority of the first half and making big plays in the second. He came away with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting with a career-best-tying three from three-point range. Hunter displayed hustle and versatility for the Wolverines, coming down with four boards and hitting both jump shots and driving the basket to pose a constant threat to the Boilermakers.
In addition to Michigan's double-digit scorers, the Wolverines found solid, hustle performances in players like freshman Jevohn Shepherd (Toronto, Ontario, Canada/West Hill Collegiate), who made his first collegiate start, finishing the game with a career-best nine points. Shepherd went 2-of-6 from the floor, including his third-career triple, while bringing down a career-best six rebounds and hitting a career-best 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.
In addition to Shepherd, fifth-year senior Hayes Grooms (Detroit, Mich./Birmingham Brother Rice HS) turned in a solid performance for the Wolverines. Grooms played for a career-best 28 minutes, replacing Smith as Michigan's second point guard. Grooms displayed hustle and good decision-making, dishing off three assists and hitting 4-of-5 from the free throw line to finish the game with four points.
The game got off to a slow start for both teams as each squad utilized as much play clock as possible for each possession. The Wolverines hit the first basket of the afternoon -- a quick two under the hoop from senior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) to junior Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) -- but it would be all Purdue from that point on as Michigan would never again hold the lead.
Purdue began a streak of hot-shooting, going 8-of-9 from the floor over a seven-minute span. The Wolverines tried to keep up, but costly turnovers and the Boilermakers' inability to make a mistake left them falling deeper into a first-half hole, trailing 27-15 at the eight-minute mark.
The Wolverines tried to string together a run of their own, drawing two fouls and hitting two from the floor, but managed only four points before the Boilermakers began putting up another scoring drive.
Trailing 30-19 with 6:24 to go in the half, Michigan managed just two points while Purdue put up 10, leaving the Wolverines behind 37-21 with 3:32 to go. Hunter tried to keep the Wolverines in the mix, hitting back-to-back baskets, but it wasn't enough to stop the Boilermakers from pulling away. By the end of the half, Michigan had fallen into a 20-point deficit thanks to 65.5 percent (19-of-29) first-half shooting from Purdue.
The second half actually finished in favor of the Wolverines as they outscored the Boilermakers 45-38 over the final 20 minutes of play. Purdue's shooting cooled down a bit while Michigan began driving the ball inside to force fouls, resulting result in 19 second-half free throws. Still, it wouldn't be enough to push them over their significant 20-point hurdle as the Boilermakers still shot 55 percent (11-of-20) in the second half.
Both teams went back and forth with scoring at the outset of the second frame and Michigan's deficit stayed right around the 20-point mark. Down 70-44 with seven minutes to play, the Wolverines began to spark worry in the eyes of the Boilermakers after Coleman, Hunter and Shepherd strung together three consecutive triples to get back within 20 before Purdue's foul trouble began to benefit the Wolverines.
Michigan scored nine points on free throws over a two-minute span to cut their deficit to 15 (77-62) with 2:42 to go in the contest. A U-M foul allowed Purdue to take two of those points back before Coleman hit his fourth triple of the afternoon and junior Brent Petway (McDonough Ga./Griffin HS) went to the line on a Boilermaker foul. Petway split the pair to put Michigan within 13 (79-66), but a U-M foul on the other end left the Wolverines with simply too little time. Despite Michigan field goals, the clock stood in favor of the Boilermakers, who ultimately came away with the 84-70 win.
The Wolverines continue their Big Ten schedule as they come back Wednesday (Feb. 15) to Crisler Arena to face Minnesota for the second time this season The Maize and Blue won 71-55 at William Arena (Jan. 21). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the game part of the ESPN-Plus local package.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423