Purdue is riding a six-game win streak, and coach Matt Painter's club has just one loss through its first 12 games -- that coming against Richmond back on November 27th. The Boilermakers, who have yet to face a ranked foe this season, took care of IPFW their last time on the court, and they will open the home portion of their Big Ten slate on New Year's Eve against Northwestern.
Michigan is off to a sensational start as well, logging a 10-2 mark to this point, although the majority of its wins have come against inferior competition as well. Still, coach John Beilein's squad brings a seven-game win streak into this clash, which begins a stretch of four of the next five at home where the Wolverines are a perfect 9-0 thus far.
Purdue leads the all-time series with Michigan, 81-61, and the Boilermakers have won four of the last five meetings. The Wolverines however, won the last encounter at Crisler Arena in an 87-78 final on February 26, 2009, and Purdue is seeking its first win in Ann Arbor since March of 2008.
Led by the nation's highest scoring duo, the Boilermakers are hoping to make a serious run through the rest of the Big Ten this season. JaJuan Johnson (19.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and E'Twaun Moore (19.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) were supposed to be joined by fellow standout Robbie Hummel to give Purdue a formidable trio, but Hummel was lost to injury before the season began. As it is, Johnson and Moore have been nothing short of spectacular through the first dozen games, but should something happen to one of them, or they have an off night, there isn't much in the way of support coming from the rest of the PU roster.
The Boilermakers average 75 ppg on 45 percent shooting, but where the team really shines is at the defensive end as foes are netting just 55.5 ppg on typical shooting efforts of only 38.2 percent overall, and 26.9 percent from three-point range. Johnson logged his fourth double-double of the season in last week's thrashing of IPFW, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while Moore finished with a solid line of 11 points, six assists and a career-high five steals. D.J. Byrd tallied 15 points on five treys for Purdue, which drained 53.4 percent of its total shots, including a 10-of-22 showing from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Mastodons were held to 34.6 percent field goal efficiency, and they were guilty of 17 turnovers.
Michigan is not an offensive powerhouse as the team is averaging 69.7 ppg on 44.1 percent shooting from the floor overall, which includes a 33.1 percent effort from three-point range. No, where the Wolverines excel is at the defensive end as opponents are scoring just 56.6 ppg in hitting a mere 38.1 percent of their field goal attempts, and only 29.1 percent of their long- range tries. The team boasts just two double-digit scorers in the form of guards Darius Morris (15.8 ppg, 7.5 apg) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg), although Jordan Morgan (9.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is close to joining them.
Zack Novak is the club's leading rebounder (7.5 rpg), but he is netting just 7.9 ppg due to his poor 33.8 percent shooting effort. Michigan's most recent win came against Bryant on December 23rd, as the Wolverines matched a school- record with 16 three-pointers en route to the 87-71 decision. Morris notched his fourth double-double of the season with a career-high 26 points and career-high-tying 12 assists, while Hardaway, Jr. added 20 points for Michigan, which made good on 48.3 percent of its total shots and outscored Bryant, 20-4 in bench points, and 15-2 off turnovers, of which the Wolverines committed just three.
Purdue's dynamic duo is as good as there is in the country, but take one or both out of the mix, and the Boilermakers will be ripe for the picking. Of course, that is easier said than done. Michigan has talent, but not enough to overcome what Johnson and Moore bring to the table for the Boilermakers.
GAME NOTES: Big Ten Conference play gets underway for a pair of teams with high expectations, as the 12th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers come calling on the Michigan Wolverines.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Crisler Arena (13,751) -- Ann Arbor, Michigan. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Purdue 7-0, Michigan 9-0. Away Record: Purdue 2-0, Michigan 1-0. Neutral Record: Purdue 2-1, Michigan 0-2. Conference Record: Purdue 0-0, Michigan 0-0. Series Record: Purdue leads, 81-61.
Purdue 72, Michigan 64