The Wolverine

March 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2022 THE WOLVERINE 83 I n the Wolverines' Feb. 9 film session the day before their matchup with No. 3 Purdue, head coach Juwan Howard went around the room and asked each player and staff member how much sleep they got the night before. U-M got in at 3 a.m. ET that morning following a 58-57 win at Penn State, and the average amount of shuteye was four hours. But there were no excuses, Howard in- sisted, and the Maize and Blue brought the energy in an 82-58 signature win over the Boilermakers Feb. 10. Purdue,'s most efficient offensive team in the nation at the time, shot just 44.0 percent from the field and hit only 4 of 18 three-point attempts (22.2 percent). The Boilermakers, who had seven players shooting threes at a bet- ter than 40 percent rate, generated just 0.936 points per play, their worst offen- sive output since January 2021. It was just the second time the squad failed to hit 1.0 point per play this season. U-M had struggled defensively all season, but fi- nally made a big jump and guarded at a high level for 40 minutes. "You're talking about Purdue, who's a team that can score on the inside and also outside with a lot of shooters on the perimeter, and it has to start with the de- fense in order to get stops," Howard said. "Sometimes, defense generates offense on the other end, whether you're scoring in transition, or also when you're wearing [them down] defensively, then it sort of wears them down mentally. I'm not say- ing that's what happened to Purdue, but it energized us." The Wolverines' big man duo of sopho- more Hunter Dickinson (22 points) and freshman Moussa Diabate (15) combined for 37 points, compared to 22 from Purdue senior Trevion Williams (12) and sopho- more Zach Edey (10). The U-M offense was extremely effi- cient as a whole, ripping off a season-high 1.323 points per play, with 21 assists on 32 made buckets and 12 made threes on 21 attempts (57.1 percent). Once the final buzzer sounded, U-M fans stormed the court. Neither Howard nor any of his players had experienced a scene quite like it, they said, and they were happy to celebrate with the Maize and Blue faithful. "I really didn't know how to react, be- cause it was my first time, but it was nice to see that our fans really appreciate the guys, as far as what they brought to the table, the effort and energy," Howard said. "There's nothing like winning at home. It tastes really good." Dickinson was leaving the court but turned around once he saw fans flooding the floor and was right in the thick of the madness. "We were thinking about it before the game if they were going to storm the court," he said. "I had mixed feelings about it before the game, because if you storm the court, it means you aren't ex- pected to win. We felt like we had a really good shot out there to win the game. Felt like a couple of adjustments on defense that we didn't do in the first game led to them getting away from us. Coming into this game, we all felt really confident in ourselves and in the game plan. "But, shoot, if they are going to storm the court, I may as well in get in there too." The victory over the Boilermakers was one of the few times to that point in the season where the Wolverines have looked like the preseason top-10 team they were expected to be. Those expectations were lofty in hindsight, but the win provided a look at what could be, for now and the future. "For us, it was always a matter of time until those pieces started clicking," Dick- inson said. "So you saw a total team effort of everyone stepping up and playing to their ability."   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Michigan's Win Over No. 3 Purdue Boosts NCAA Tournament Résumé Michigan held Purdue, which was the most efficient offense in the country at the time, to just 0.936 points per play — their worst offensive output since January 2021 — in an 82-58 win that set off a court storming in Ann Arbor Feb. 10. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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