To break a two-game losing skid, Purdue men's basketball must travel to Michigan on Thursday and become the first Big Ten Conference team to beat the Wolverines. Michigan, last season's national runner-up to Louisville, went 7-4 in nonconference play. That stretch included losses to No. 16 Iowa State, No. 17 Duke and No. 1 Arizona. The Wolverines won at Michigan State for only the second time in 16 seasons on Saturday. It was Michigan's third straight victory over a ranked conference opponent, and the second to come on the road. As a result, the Wolverines rose from No. 21 to 10 in the Associated Press poll. "Losing some games in nonconference can help you kind of establish some roles and know who you are as a team," Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Michigan. Painter is impressed by the post combination of Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, calling the duo a "double-double machine." Michigan is led by Nik Stauskas, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, and Glenn Robinson III, son of the former Purdue star. "They have a lot of guys who have been through it before; guys who made a long run and almost won a national championship," Painter said. Michigan coach John Beilein doesn't take Purdue lightly, taking note of the Boilermakers' wins at West Virginia and Illinois and narrow losses at Minnesota and Northwestern. "As long as Matt Painter is coaching there, you know they have a terrific team," Beilein said. "I believe it's a team that's really on the rise with the talent he has and his coaching ability and staff. We have to play a great basketball game Thursday to get a victory." Award winners Stauskas repeated as conference player of the week. The 6-foot-6 sophomore guard averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from 3-point range in wins over Iowa and Michigan State. Wolverines point guard Derrick Walton Jr. earned his first freshman of the week nod. He collected 19 points, five assists and six rebounds against Michigan State. "With any freshman point guard, if he's that good that he doesn't have tremendous growth that freshman year, he probably is too good," Beilein said. "It's incredible what they have to go through between spending their summer on campus, weight training, film sessions — all things there's no way a high school can put them through, or AAU. "He's been really good at taking it day to day. That, 'Yeah, I've made a lot of mistakes today, but I'll be better tomorrow, coach' attitude. He's shown he's really gaining confidence and also shown he's really learning. He's got a chance to be a good leader and quarterback for this team."
Purdue set to take on streaking Wolverines
Indianapolis Star | Jan 28