WEST LAFAYETTE – For just the second time this season, Michigan coach John Beilein changed his starting line up.
He subbed redshirt junior C.J. Lee in place of freshman Kelvin Grady at point guard.
Beilein made the switch in hopes of jumpstarting the Wolverines after recent slow starts.
Michigan fell behind 10-0 to Wisconsin before notching its first bucket. Against UCLA on Dec. 22, the Wolverines surrendered an early 9-2 lead.
“We just said, ‘Let’s just change it up,’ ” Beilein said. “I thought Kelvin did terrific off the bench and did a great job. Sometimes one little change like that just might give you a little bit better look.”
Saturday, Michigan never trailed Purdue by more than five points in the game’s first 11 minutes. But both Lee’s and Grady’s contributions were mainly on the defensive end – the duo combined for just four points and shot 2-for-7 from the floor.
Despite coming off the bench, Grady finished with 18 minutes on the floor, four more than Lee. He also remained on the court late in the game – an indication Beilein trusts Grady more to make shots at the end of a close contest.
After the game, Beilein seemed inclined to start Lee and bring Grady off the bench in the future.
“I do not change starting lineups a great deal,” Beilein said. “I just hang with them and when I think we need to make a change (I just) do it. I don’t go back and forth.”
Indeed, Beilein’s only other change came on Dec. 8 when he sat sophomore Zack Gibson for sophomore Ekpe Udoh.
Big Ten is just fancy talk for ugly: The first half of Saturday’s game did little to disprove the Big Ten’s reputation for having teams that play slow, grind-it-out basketball.
During a six-minute stretch, the teams combined to score just six points.
In that span, both teams missed 11 shots, committed five turnovers and had two blocked two shots.
“It’s Big Ten basketball,” Lee said. “It can get ugly, but the thing about it is when you’re not making shots, you have to do things you can control.”
The Wolverines relied on defense, forcing Purdue into seven turnovers in the first half. But the Boilermakers still shot 49 percent from the floor to Michigan’s 29 percent.
In addition to that lackluster run, the Wolverines made matters worse by not making a field goal for almost 10 minutes. Gibson finally broke through with a short-range jumper with just under three minutes remaining in the first frame.
Notes: Freshman Manny Harris’s 25 points were one more than his previous career-high against Oakland. Harris hit 10 of his 11 free throws, but no other Wolverine shot more than two. . Just two of the 10 starters in Saturday’s game were upperclassmen – Michigan seniors Ron Coleman and C.J. Lee.