With No. 1 Duke going down in emphatic fashion on Wednesday night the door has once again opened in regards to debating who should sit atop the polls next week. One team in the discussion is No. 2 Michigan, but with Purdue hitting seven three-pointers (on 13 attempts) in the first half and taking a 33-32 lead into the intermission an upset at Crisler Arena was a real possibility.
John Beilein’s team would play better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and with Purdue failing to make a single three-pointer in the final 20 minutes (0-of-9) Michigan pulled away for the 68-53 victory.
Trey Burke led four Michigan starters in double figures with 15 points while also dishing out eight assists and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 13 as Michigan moved to 18-1 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play, keeping pace in the loss column with Michigan State (6-1) and Indiana (5-1).
Terone Johnson led the Boilermakers with 14 points and D.J. Byrd added 11, but their second half cold spell from deep led to an opportunity for a valuable victory slipping from Purdue’s (10-9, 3-3) grasp.
On the night Purdue shot 7-of-22 from beyond the arc and 38.9% overall, and they went more than four minutes in the second half without a field goal as a 40-38 lead turned into a 49-40 deficit.
Also of note for Michigan was the play of their freshmen, with Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas scoring 12 points apiece and Mitch McGary tallying all six of his points in the second half.
Next up for Michigan is a trip to Illinois on Sunday night, with the Fighting Illini coming off of a 71-51 win over Nebraska to snap a three-game losing streak. Illinois has been on a cold streak from beyond the arc, shooting just 24.8% in conference games, but with players such as Brandon Paul they’re capable of waking up.
Rankings don’t mean a great deal in January, but if Michigan can take that step to the top of the polls it would be a nice achievement for John Beilein’s program given where Michigan was when he arrived in Ann Arbor.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.