Purdue enters its Thursday visit to Michigan on a six-game winning streak and back in possession of the top spot in the men’s college basketball rankings.
Don’t get the No. 1 Boilermakers wrong, they’ll take the lofty perch. But you can think again if you figure Purdue is content.
“There’s still a lot of improvement in every facet of our game,” Boilermakers center Zach Edey said. “Offensively, defensively, rebounding, turnovers. We’re never going to be satisfied with where we are.”
A 16-point lead against visiting Maryland nearly evaporated Sunday, but the Boilermakers (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) held things together down the stretch.
As did Edey.
Purdue’s dominant, 7-foot-4 center finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds to help the Boilermakers earn a 58-55 victory.
Braden Smith followed with eight points and Fletcher Loyer added seven as the Boilermakers relied heavily on Edey’s 16th double-double of the season.
Purdue overcame committing 15 turnovers.
“I think we just never really found our footing offensively in the second half,” Boilermakers guard Ethan Morton said. “It was sort of stagnant, and part of that was just not getting as many stops and just some live-ball turnovers where they seemed to get some open layups.”
In any event, Purdue stayed hot on defense, limiting an opponent to 55 points or fewer for the third time in the past four games to secure the best 20-game start in program history.
Michigan (11-8, 5-3) will aim to secure consecutive victories or the first time since Jan. 1 and Jan. 4 while continuing to contend with various injuries.
In a 60-56 victory against visiting Minnesota on Sunday, the Wolverines lost freshman Jett Howard to a left ankle injury late in the first half. Howard returned to the bench after halftime wearing a boot and didn’t play.
“I feel sorry for the young man because he hates missing basketball,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said of his youngest son. “He’s in love with the game of basketball and he wants to help his team on both ends of the floor. We’re not sure how long he’s going to be out.”
Jace Howard, another son of the coach, missed the past two games recovering from a concussion sustained in practice. The Wolverines expect Dug McDaniel to return against Purdue after battling a foot injury.
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan’s leading scorer (18.1 per game) and rebounder (8.9 per game), paced the Wolverines in both categories against the Golden Gophers, finishing with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Dickinson has remained a stable force while the rest of the roster stays resilient.
“You wish it never happens to you and your team, but I love how our guys respond as far as a ‘next man up’ mentality and not making excuses for themselves,” Juwan Howard said. “They have the right to, but they still love going out there and competing and are going to lay it all out on the line.”
Michigan has won six of the past seven games in the series, though the teams split a pair last season.
–Field Level Media