2011-2012 Season Preview: Breakout Players

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One of my favorite things to do during the preseason is try and identify the guys that will have breakout years in the upcoming season.

Unlike Luke Winn, I’m not using any mathematical formulas to make these determinations. Instead, its a combination of young players that have looked promising early in their careers, talented role players that are in a position to take on a much larger role in the offense or simply kids that I have a hunch on. This list is not scientific, but we do believe it to be all-encompassing.

Here’s the catch — too many of these lists have been done already. Everyone has written that Thomas Robinson, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Ross have a chance to be all-americans this season. We all know that Terrell Stoglin and DeShaun Thomas are expected to have monster sophomore years. So we went a little deeper.

Without further ado, here is our list of 20 players — and 10 extras — that we expect to have a big 2011-2012 season:

Keith Appling, So., Michigan State: Appling came into East Lansing with some significant hype. That’s generally what happens when you’re a McDonald’s all-american and you join a program like the Spartans. And while his minutes and shots were limited thanks to the presence of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, Appling did show off an impressive jump shot, knocking down 41.1% of his threes, which is a good sign given the reputation he had as a slasher and a driver in high school. Appling will the primary ball-handler for Michigan State, but the offense will run through playmaking power forward Draymond Green. That will allow Appling to be aggressive as a scorer, a role I expect him to thrive in this year.

Tarik Black, So., Memphis: On a team that boasts already Joe Jackson and Will Barton, would you believe me if I told you that Tarik Black was the sophomore on the Memphis Tigers? What if I told you that he was the most likely to win the Conference USA Player of the Year award, would you believe that? Black spent much of last season out of shape and in foul trouble. He’s still on the road to recovery from a knee injury he suffered during his junior year of high school. But despite those problems, Black still came on very strong late in the season, finishing the year with averages of 9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 1.6 bpg. After spending the summer working out with Frank Matrisciano, Black, who is one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in the country and an excellent shot blocker, is in the best shape of his life. That’s a scary thing to hear for Conference USA opponents.

Rob Brandenberg, So., and Juvonte Reddic, So., VCU: There are a ton of minutes available for the Rams this season Shaka Smart’s club lost four of their top five scorers from the Final Four team. Bradford Burgess does return to anchor this roster, but he’s going to need help, and both Brandenberg and Reddic seem primed for big years. Brandenberg, a 6’2″ sophomore and an athletic slasher, had a some big performances in the middle of the season — including a couple of 20 points outbursts — before an injury in February slowed his progress. Reddic didn’t see a ton of minutes, but he was a well-regarded recruit and he has the kind of talent that should allow him to fill in for the production lost with Jamie Skeen’s graduation.

Allen Crabbe, So., Cal: Allen Crabbe may have already broken out. After struggling for the first 13 games of last season, the 6’6″ sophomore wing flourished when Gary Franklin decided to leave the team and transfer to Baylor. Crabbe, who averaged just 8.4 ppg with Franklin in the lineup, scored 16.9 ppg the rest of the way. That number would be even higher if it wasn’t for an injury he suffered at Washington in February. I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the Pac-12 in scoring this season.

Jared Cunningham, Jr., Oregon State: There aren’t many players in the country that can claim to be remotely as athletic as Jared Cunningham. The 6’4″ wing is a physical specimen when it comes to playing the perimeter at this level. He’s got an outstanding vertical, he’s got an impressive wingspan and he’s very quick, both laterally and with his first step. That’s a major reason why he’s one of the best defenders in the country; he averaged 2.8 spg last season. But what’s most intriguing about Cunningham is he’s no where near a finished product. While he led the Beavers in scoring last season at 14.2 ppg, he did it mostly as a spot-up shooter, attacking the offensive glass and scoring points in transition. What happens when the 20 year old becomes adept at beating his man off the dribble and scoring in the mid-range?

Seth Curry, Jr., Duke: The key for Duke this season may end up being how well Seth Curry plays. Duke is going to be talented but unproven at every position on the floor next year. Austin Rivers will likely go through the ups and downs that freshmen have. The only thing the Plumlees have done consistently in their careers has been being inconsistent. Ryan Kelly has some hype, but he still needs to prove it in the ACC. Alex Murphy and Michael Gbinije are freshmen. Curry will have to be the anchor for this team, a leader that can create shots in crunch-time and understands how to distribute the ball. Curry needs to embrace the role of being a point guard.

CJ Fair, So., Syracuse: A member of the same recruiting class as Dion Waiters and Fab Melo, CJ Fair actually turned out to be the most productive and promising freshmen Jim Boeheim recruited. After a relatively ho-hum start to the season, Fair was thrust into the national spotlight when he scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Pitt in mid-January. Fair averaged 7.9 ppg over the final 17 games, putting up a couple of impressive performances. A lefty, the 6’8″ combo-forward is a terrific athlete that understands how to make plays with his athleticism — offensive rebounds, steals, blocks. As his skills develop, Fair will only become a more dangerous player.

Erick Green, Jr., Virginia Tech: I actually think that Virginia Tech is going to just as good as, if not better, than they were the past few seasons with Malcolm Delaney running the show. Green is the reason for that. He didn’t start to see significant minutes until Dorenzo Hudson had his season cut short with a broken foot, but he was very good when he finally got into the lineup. Green averaged 11.7 ppg and 2.7 apg while posting a 2.3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He did that despite Delaney dominating possession of the ball. Expect a big season out of Green as Tech’s point guard this year.

Tim Hardaway Jr, So., Michigan: Tim Hardaway Jr. is in a similar position to both Jeremy Lamb and Allen Crabbe. After spending the first part of his freshman season as a role player for the Wolverines, Hardaway really came on strong down the stretch. He gave John Beilein a second go-to scoring option alongside Darius Morris, and his play late in the year was a huge reason Michigan was able to win eight of their last 11 games and sneak into the NCAA Tournament. With Morris making the jump to the NBA, even more responsibility will fall onto Hardaway’s shoulders. He should be ready to handle it.

Sean Kilpatrick, So., and Yancy Gates, Sr., Cincinnati: Part of the reason I think that Cincinnati is going to be a sneaky-good team in the Big East this season is that I am expecting big years out of both Gates and Kilpatrick, albeit for different reasons. Gates has always been one of the most talented players in the conference, but conditioning and effort were an issue. A mid-season suspension was the wake-up call he needed, however, and Gates averaged 15.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg and 1.3 bpg over the final 10 games. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was a high-efficiency, high-volume shooter last season. He averaged 9.7 ppg but only averaged around 20 mpg. It will be interesting to see what he is able to do in a more focal role this year.

Khyle Marshall, So., Butler: Marshall had a promising freshman campaign with the Bulldogs, putting together a pair of impressive performances during the Bulldog’s run to the national title game. Marshall is not your typical Butler player. He’s a terrific athlete, the kind of guy that normally gets scooped up to ride the bench of a high-major program. Marshall is an excellent rebounder (especially on the offensive end of the floor) and defender, and playing alongside Andrew Smith, that’s about all he is going to be asked to do. Expect a significant bump from the 5.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg he averaged last season.

Rodney McGruder, Jr., Kansas State: McGruder was a bystander like the rest of us, a witness to the late-season performances from Jacob Pullen as he carried the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament last season. That said, McGruder did have some of his best games late in the season, particularly when it came to scoring the ball. There isn’t much that McGruder doesn’t do well at this level. He can shoot (40.8% from three), he can rebound (6.0 rpg) and he can score (11.4 rpg). He’s a high-efficiency player that has already begun to embrace the role of being the leader for this team.

Brandon Paul, Jr., and DJ Richardson, Jr., Illinois: Illinois lost five of their top eight players from last season, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Demetri McCamey and Jereme Richmond were head cases and distractions, their loss ending up being addition by subtraction. With all those players leaving, it opens up quite a few minutes and shots for Paul and Richardson, both juniors. Richardson is a better shooter than Paul, but Paul is a more dangerous all-around player, especially on the offensive end of the floor. Expect them to become the first and second options offensively this year.

Andre Roberson, So., Colorado: Roberson wax an unheralded recruit coming out of high school, but at 6’7″ with long arms and terrific athleticism, Roberson quickly proved his value to Big 12 opponents. Playing just 22.3 mpg, Roberson averaged 7.8 rpg, finishing in the top 25 of both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He was also a terror on the defensive end, where he was among the Big 12 leaders in steals and blocks. Right now, Roberson’s strength lies in the things he can do without the ball — rebound, defend, cut to the basket — but with Colorado losing so much talent from last season, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to score this season. Here’s to hoping Roberson put in the work this summer on his offensive arsenal.

Maalik Wayns, Jr., and Mouphtaou Yarou, Jr., Villanova: The obvious pick here is Jeremy Lamb of UConn. The trendy pick is Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati. So in order to buck that trend, I’ll go with Villanova’s two elder statesmen. The Wildcats have almost no hype heading into this season. Having flamed out in the postseason the past two years and losing four key pieces from that team, you wouldn’t be wrong to ignore Villanova heading into the year. But I like the makeup of this team. I think they have similar pieces at the two, three and four to the group that made the Final Four run in 2009, but I also think that with the opportunity to take over the role of the star, both Wayns and Yarou will shine. Both players are impressive talents that were forced to play third and fourth fiddle to the two Coreys last season. If Wayns has gotten his jumper more consistent and Yarou has become a better low-post scorer, I think those two will carry a Villanova team that will rely more heavily on the defensive end of the floor than we are used to.

Kendall Williams, So., New Mexico: Williams can flat out play. As a third or fourth option for the Lobos as a freshman, Williams — who won the freshman of the year award in the MWC — finished with averages of 11.5 ppg and 4.0 apg despite playing alongside Dairese Gary. Gary graduated in the offseason, which means that Williams, along with Drew Gordon, will become the center of the New Mexico attack. To get an idea of what kind of production can be expected, Williams scored 18 points in both of the Lobo’s NIT games after Gary suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Ten more players to keep an eye on:

Mike Breusewitz, Jr., Wisconsin
Jordan Clarkson, So., Tulsa
Tyreek Duren, So., La Salle
Langston Galloway, So., St. Joseph’s
Stephen Holt, So., St. Mary’s
Cedrick Lindsay, So., Richmond
Dundrecous Nelson, So., Ole Miss
Jake Odum, So., Indiana State
Devon Saddler, So., Delaware
Peyton Siva, Jr., Louisville

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Ohio State tumbles

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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It was a rough week for Ohio State, which lost all three of its games and tumbled down the AP Top 25 as a result.

The previously unbeaten Buckeyes fell from second to 10th in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday after losing to Iowa and Indiana, two top 10 teams, as well as Purdue. Ohio State fell two games back in the Big Ten Conference standings.

South Carolina remained No. 1 for the 32nd consecutive week. The Gamecocks, who were again a unanimous choice from the 28-member national media panel, have the fourth-longest streak ever atop the poll. Only UConn (51 and 34 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) have had longer runs at No. 1.

Stanford moved back up to No. 2 in the poll and the Cardinal were followed by LSU, Indiana and UConn in the top five. LSU is the only other undefeated team in women’s basketball besides South Carolina, which visits UConn for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

Iowa jumped out four spots to sixth with Utah, Maryland and Notre Dame coming in ahead of Ohio State. The Hawkeyes started the season No. 4 in the poll.

The Fighting Irish split a pair of games last week against ranked opponents, routing Florida State before falling to N.C. State.

“There’s a lot of parity right now, which is great, great for the game,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “The game is growing, which is what you want. But yeah, I mean, every night, especially the ACC, the ACC is the strongest league and, you know, we have just a tough stretch every night.”

One week after falling out of the rankings, Texas re-entered the poll at No. 24. The Longhorns routed then-No. 14 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week. South Florida also came in at No. 25. Colorado and Illinois fell out of the poll.

RISING BULLS

No. 25 South Florida continued its streak of being ranked for at least one week every season since the Bulls entered the poll for the first time in 2015.

“For us not being in a so-called football five conference, that’s a huge accomplishment,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. His team has won 10 consecutive games and has 20 victories this season. The team’s four losses have all come against ranked opponents (Michigan, Villanova, Ohio State and N.C. State).

“This group has been fun to coach. We always play a great non(equals)conference schedule,” Fernandez said. “We won on the road at Texas, beat Alabama, beat Arkansas. We challenged ourselves in November and December.”

RECORD PERFORMANCES

Cameron Brink carried Stanford to a win over Oregon with a triple-double that included 10 blocks. It was the first triple-double in NCAA Division I women’s basketball featuring double-digit blocks since Tamari Key did it for Tennessee in an overtime win against Texas on Nov. 21, 2021.

No. 20 Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson set the all-time NCAA women’s career record for 3-pointers when she hit her 498th in a loss to Iowa State on Saturday. Robertson has 503 entering this week. The all-time NCAA record, men or women, is held by Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who has 534 and counting.

Purdue a unanimous No. 1 in AP Top 25; Vols up to No. 2

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Purdue became this season’s first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll Monday after wins over Michigan and Michigan State last week as chaos ensued behind the Boilermakers among other ranked teams.

More than half of Top 25 teams lost, including second-ranked Alabama, which was routed by Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. That allowed Purdue to grab the remaining No. 1 votes and tighten its grip atop the poll, while Tennessee jumped two spots to second and Houston held onto third in voting by 62 national media members.

The Boilermakers (21-1) have won eight straight since a one-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 2.

“We’re the No. 1 team in the country because of how unselfish we are as a team,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “We had a lot of people doubting us in the beginning because, you know, we may not be the most talented team or whatever, but we’re close on the court and off the court and it’s really translating to how we’re winning.”

The Volunteers climbed to their highest perch since reaching No. 1 for four weeks during the 2018-19 season. They routed Georgia before becoming one of three SEC teams to beat Big 12 opponents on Saturday, knocking off No. 10 Texas 82-71 for their fifth consecutive win over a top-10 team.

Perhaps this is the year Rick Barnes finally gets the Vols through the Sweet 16 for the first time as their coach.

“We have a chance to be as good as we want to be,” he said. “It’s up to one thing: Are we tough enough to embrace the daily grind? And not worry about going to the Final Four or worry about going to the NCAA Tournament, but can we build a team that can be successful that time of year? It starts with truly embracing the grind.”

The Crimson Tide dropped to fourth after the blowout loss to the Sooners, when Alabama fell behind by 17 at halftime in an eventual 93-69 defeat. The Tide edged fifth-ranked Arizona by just two points in this week’s poll.

“It doesn’t have any effect on SEC standings, which is the only good thing to come out of this,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the lopsided loss. “Hopefully we’ll recover from a loss out of conference, but you know, it’s not good.”

Virginia was sixth and Kansas State, which rebounded from a narrow loss at No. 13 Iowa State by pummeling Florida on Saturday, fell two spots to seventh; the Wildcats face eighth-ranked Kansas in a top-10 showdown Tuesday night.

UCLA dropped to ninth after losing to Southern California and Texas rounded out the top 10.

Baylor continued its climb from unranked to No. 11 following wins over the Jayhawks and Arkansas. The Bears were followed by Gonzaga, Iowa State, Marquette and league rival TCU – the sixth Big 12 team in the top 15.

Xavier, Providence, Saint Mary’s, Florida Atlantic and Clemson completed the top 20, while poll returners Indiana and San Diego State joined Miami, UConn and Auburn in rounding out the Top 25.

RISING AND FALLING

The No. 11 Bears and No. 17 Providence made the biggest leaps, each climbing six spots from last week.

“I think our defense is better. Our turnovers are better. When you don’t give people easy transition baskets, now its five-on-five in the half court,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team had a date with the Longhorns on Monday night.

“We execute at a pretty high rate,” Drew said. “It really comes down to taking care of the ball, making sure we get shots up and when you don’t make them, you’ve got to get rebounds. And our guys are buying into that.”

Auburn took the biggest hit of those still in the poll, dropping 10 places after losses to unranked Texas A&M and West Virginia.

IN AND OUT

The Hoosiers returned to the poll at No. 21 and the Aztecs rejoined it right behind them. They took the place of Charleston, which fell out from No. 18 after losing to Hofstra, and New Mexico, which lost to Nevada in double overtime last week.

CONFERENCE CALL

The Big 12’s dominance of the SEC in the final year of their head-to-head challenge was rewarded in the poll, where the league led the way with six ranked teams and all of them in the top 15. The Big East has four teams in the poll but none higher than No. 14 Marquette, while the SEC and ACC have three teams apiece.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.