West Lafayette, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 16th-ranked Michigan Wolverines will try to continue their reign atop the Big Ten Conference standings on Wednesday night when they venture to Mackey Arena to take on the Purdue Boilermakers.
With sole possession of first place on the line last weekend, Michigan defended its home court against nationally-ranked Michigan State with an outstanding 79-70 victory, and at 11-3 in the Big Ten, it now holds a half- game lead over the Spartans in the race for the regular-season title. The Wolverines have alternated wins with losses in each of the past seven games but still own a stellar 19-7 overall record this season.
Purdue, meanwhile, has been sliding of late with two straight setbacks and losses in seven of its past nine. The Boilermakers most recently fell in embarrassing fashion at Nebraska on Sunday, 76-57, to dip to 15-12 overall and just 5-8 in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines bested the Boilermakers in the first meeting this season, winning 75-66 at home on Jan. 30. Although Michigan has won three straight in the series, Purdue still holds an 84-65 advantage all time.
After trailing MSU by as many as 11 in the first half, the Wolverines battled back to make their deficit just two at intermission, and they took over in the second half before eventually claiming a nine-point victory. They shot 50 percent from the field on the afternoon, including 8-of-19 from 3-point range, and they took excellent care of the basketball with just three turnovers while forcing 13 Spartan miscues. Nik Stauskas (25 points, five assists) and Caris LeVert (23 points) were both outstanding in the triumph, combining to shoot 6- of-10 from 3-point range, while Glenn Robinson III added 15 points.
Michigan sports a strong offensive attack this season, shooting just a shade under 48 percent from the field for 75.1 ppg, and it also plays great defense in allowing 65.0 ppg. In fact, the squad has no discernable weaknesses, as it boasts strong percentages from 3-point range (.394) and the foul line (.761) and lives in the green with its rebounding (+1.5) and turnover (+1.5) margins. Stauskas leads the way with 17.0 ppg, having drained 58 long-range buckets at a 44.6 percent clip. LeVert brings 13.3 ppg to the table, while Robinson (12.9 ppg) rounds out the double-digit scorers.
The Boilermakers trailed Nebraska by nine at the half of their most recent contest and never contended in the second stanza, falling behind by as many as 27 before it was all said and done. They shot a mere 30.2 percent from the field in the setback (including 3-of-16 from beyond the arc) and were also plagued by 14 turnovers. Bryson Scott game off the bench to tally 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Rapheal Davis had the only other performance of note with nine points, eight boards and two blocks.
Purdue's offensive production this season has been solid, scoring 72.7 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting, but its problem has come on the other end of the floor, where it allows its opponents to put up nearly identical numbers (71.1 ppg, .420). The modest attack is paced by the efforts of Terone Johnson, who pours in 11.8 ppg but has been less than stellar from the field (.397) and the free- throw line (.588). Ronnie Johnson scores 10.8 ppg and hands out 3.5 apg, while A.J. Hammons acts an anchor in the frontcourt with 10.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 3.0 bpg.