WEST LAFAYETTE — As Michigan can attest, don’t judge a team by its record.
Purdue was 4-13 overall and winless in the Big Ten heading into yesterday’s game against the Wolverines, but its record didn’t reflect how competitive the Boilermakers have been throughout this season. Purdue had played the top three teams in the Big Ten — Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin — and lost each game by single digits.
Purdue coach Gene Keady is in his last season after 25 years at Purdue, and this season has not been going as he anticipated. But he was relieved after yesterday’s 84-55 win over Michigan gave the Boilermakers their first win in the Big Ten.
“I’ll be honest,” Keady said. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to win another game (this season). I’m happy to get this win, as we’re not in the cellar any longer.”
A team that has been near the bottom of most statistical categories in the Big Ten this year, Purdue exploded for its second-highest offensive output of the season. The Boilermakers were led by David Teague, who had a career high 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The junior hadn’t scored in double figures since a 17-point game against Illinois on Jan. 8.
“Our backs were against the wall at 0-6, and something had to give,” Keifer said. “I think we took them out of their game, and that was key.”
Keifer wasn’t the only player who was able to find good shots against Michigan’s defense. The Boilermakers shot 52 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc. Three other Purdue starters finished with double figures in points: Carl Landry with 19, Brandon McKnight with 18 and Teague with 14.
“I thought Purdue battled together very well throughout the entire game,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “It’s good to see Purdue get their first Big Ten win.”
The Boilermakers’ win was helped dramatically by their ability to draw fouls and make free throws. Purdue went to the charity stripe 36 times and hit 28 foul shots — good for 78 percent as a team. McKnight was a perfect 8-for-8 and Keifer went 9-for-10. Michigan went to the line 18 times and hit just nine free throws.
Purdue controlled almost every aspect of the game. The Boilermakers were fierce on the glass, grabbing 36 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end. Purdue had more defensive rebounds (25) than Michigan’s total rebounds (24). In addition, the Boilermakers distributed the ball very well, dishing out 20 assists with just 12 turnovers.
“Everyone knows we’re a good team,” Landry said. “Every team we’ve played, we played close. We just clicked today.”
Sparks off the Bench?
Yesterday’s contest against Purdue turned out to be a big one for Wolverine walk-ons. Michigan’s bench usually outscores that of its opponents, but rarely does it have as critical a role as it did on yesterday. Here is a breakdown of how the reserve players stacked up:
-Sherrod Harrell, John Andrews, Dani Wohl and Ashtyn Bell combined for 46 minutes of playing time in the second half, while typical starters Courtney Sims, Ron Coleman and Dion Harris spent a total of 16 minutes on the floor.
-Wohl, a 5-foot-11 guard, grabbed four defensive rebounds, two more than Sims, who is a foot taller.
-The aforementioned quintet of walk-ons also notched six assists, while the trio of starters logged just three.
-Andrews, Bell and Harrell each had one steal — which is one more than anyone else on the team could manage.