WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Isaiah Livers matched his season high with 22 points, Eli Brooks added 11 and No. 7 Michigan relied on a staunch defense to beat Purdue 70-53 on Friday night.
The Wolverines (13-1, 8-1 Big Ten) maintained their stranglehold on the conference lead by winning their fifth straight in the series.
Trevion Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Boilermakers, who never led as their four-game winning streak came to an end. Purdue (11-6, 5-4) played without guard Sasha Stefanovic, its top 3-point shooter, after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Michigan took full advantage of absence by limiting Purdue to 32.1% shooting and shutting out the Boilermakers from 3-point range in the first half as they took a 34-21 lead.
Purdue made its first two 3s in the second half and cut the deficit to 42-32 with 14:58 to play. But the Wolverines answered with six straight points.
Michigan: Yes, the Wolverines have one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses. But when Michigan’s shooters have an off-night, their defense is equally impressive. It’s a combination few teams possess, which is why the Wolverines could be a legitimate Final Four contender.
Purdue: While the Boilermakers had been the Big Ten’s hottest team, they sputtered without Stefanovic on the perimeter. Big Ten protocols will force Stefanovic out of at least the next two games, and coach Matt Painter needs to find a solution – fast.
With wins over Maryland and at Purdue this week, the Wolverines won’t go anywhere but up in the Top 25. The bigger question is whether recent wins at Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana will be enough to propel the Boilermakers into the rankings for the first time all season.
Michigan: Freshman Hunter Dickinson scored eight points and hasf 20 in the last three games after opening the season with 11 straight games in double figures. … Livers has had six straight games in double figures. He also had 10 rebounds and three assists… The Wolverines allowed a season-low 21 points in the first half, two fewer than Wisconsin scored earlier this month.
Purdue: Williams has 12 straight double-doubles. … Williams, Eric Hunter Jr. and Jaden Ivey were the only players to make more than two baskets. … Painter remains one win away from tying former Illinois coach Harry Combes for No. 8 all-time in conference wins (174). … The Boilermakers fell to 6-1 at home this season though they have have played more games than any other Power Five school.
Painter made the announcement about Stefanovic less than two hours before tip-off, and Purdue defended its decision to play the game by acknowledging it had been doing extensive testing to assure the illness had not spread.
Ivey replaced Stefanovic in the lineup and wound up with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists but was nowhere near as efficient as Stefanovic, who averages 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and leads the Big Ten with a 3-point percentage of 45.6%. Ivey was 3 of 14 from the field, 0 for 5 on 3s and had three turnovers.
Michigan: Takes an eight-day break before hosting Indiana next Saturday.
Purdue: Completes a two-game homestand next Saturday against No. 17 Minnesota.