No. 19 Michigan aims to bounce back against Purdue
A visit to its in-state rival didn't go as planned for Michigan.
The Wolverines will look to bounce back from an 87-69 loss to Michigan State on Sunday when they host Purdue on Thursday in Ann Arbor.
Michigan dropped to No. 19 in the latest poll after its offense went cold in East Lansing. The Wolverines shot 36.2 percent overall, including 5 of 23 from long range.
"We got some good shots, especially in the first half. There were some shots that did not fall," coach Juwan Howard said. "Unfortunately for us, that has been our norm when we go on the road. The threes don't fall for us when we are on the road. We've just got to keep forging ahead, mentally stay with it and keep working, which we will."
The Wolverines (10-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) have dropped three of their last five games, with the two victories coming against overmatched non-conference opponents Presbyterian and UMass Lowell.
Michigan doesn't have a go-to scorer, relying on a balanced attack led by center Jon Teske (14.4 points per game) and floor leader Zavier Simpson (11.4 points, 8.9 assists).
Second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers (13.6) missed the game against the Spartans due to a groin injury. It's uncertain whether he'll be ready to play against the Boilermakers.
His replacement in the lineup, Brandon Johns Jr., had 12 points and three turnovers in 30 minutes on Sunday and struggled against Michigan State's Xavier Tillman (20 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks).
"Brandon Johns has been solid for us all year. He is disappointed, he would probably tell you right now that he played bad," Howard said. "But we love the fact that he is a guy that is all in, has the right mindset, pure as they come, and is going to do whatever he can to help the team win."
Howard, a first-year coach, is confident his team will bounce back.
"At times you're going to have those stretches where you make mistakes on the floor, which everyone's human, I make mistakes as a coach and they make mistakes as a player," he said. "I know we are all in, we are a family, we are a close-knit group. We are not a finger-pointing group, we don't do that here, we make no excuses."
Purdue (9-6, 2-2) also had a rough Sunday, getting pummeled at Illinois, 63-37. The Boilermakers shot an icy 25 percent overall and were 3 of 17 from beyond the arc.
"Our inability to make perimeter shots has really hampered us on the road," Purdue coach Matt Painter said to the Purdue Exponent. "You watch a live game and you want to think we had quality shots. ... The frustrating piece is that you don't make free throws and you don't make layups and now you are allowing second-chance opportunities.
"So if you look at their score and you limit their second-chance opportunities our defense wasn't that bad," Painter added. "And then our morale just drops when you are missing some point-blank layups and free throws and things of that nature."
Painter wants to see more fight from his squad.
"Those guys want to get to the tournament," Painter said of the Illini. "That's what I told our guys. We played some teams in the last three or four weeks. They are playing like they didn't go to the tournament and we're playing like we went to the tournament. I don't care if you go or don't go, but you have to have that hunger."
Purdue is looking to avoid back-to-back Big Ten losses for the first time since losing three in a row from Feb. 7-15, 2018.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 8, 2020