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January 24, 2013

Wolverines clamp down in second half

If you give a team enough chances, the ball will eventually go through the hoop. And, in the early goings of Thursday's 68-53 win over Purdue, the Wolverines certainly gave the Boilermakers chances.

Before the first media timeout, Purdue had already tallied three offensive rebounds. The Boilermakers recollected nearly every shot they missed in the opening minutes - and ended up with points on five of their first six possessions, building a suprising 14-9 lead.

"If we didn't contain that, the result probably wouldn't have been the same," freshman guard Nik Stauskas said. "That was important."

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It's an area that hasn't been a huge problem for the Wolverines thus far.

Opponents are averaging 8.9 offensive rebounds per game against Michigan. Minnesota, the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country (16.2 per game), collected a below-average 14 against the Wolverines last week.

Purdue had seven in the first half - which led to too many extra possessions and scoring chances for the Boilermakers.

"Three of those opportunities - and they hit threes on all of them - were on these long-scramble rebounds that inside position probably wasn't the best position," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "They had seven at halftime, and those seven were costly. They are really slippery at getting in there. We have three guys with double-figure offensive rebounds, and they're all in high numbers. They have 11 guys - now probably 12 guys - with double-figure offensive rebounds. It's part of their philosophy in there. But it may lead to some they don't get, and you can get out in transition."

Purdue missed 17 shots in the first half (13-of-30), but got seven of them back on the rebound. Its 33-32 halftime lead was certainly bolstered by eight second-chance points.

"They were getting long rebounds," junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. said. "Long shots lead to long rebounds, so if you're boxing out in the paint, shooting long threes like [guard] D.J Bryd was, all his boards were going to the free-throw line or extended.

"In the second half, we boxed out further and were meeting our man before they got to the paint."

As Beilein mentioned, many of the Boilermakers' long rebounds led to open looks from three-point range.

Purdue shot 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes, including a 3-of-7 performance from Bryd.

But that all changed after the break.

"I think we really focused in," Stauskas said. "We didn't want to give up any more offensive rebounds, and we didn't want to give up any more open threes. That was something we really focused in on at halftime, and we were able to do it."

In the second half, Purdue managed just four offensive rebounds. Without long rebounds leading to open looks, the Boilermakers had trouble heaving anything past the Michigan defense.

The Wolverines completely stifled the Purdue perimeter attack in the second half, holding it to 0-of-9. Bryd - after hoisted seven in the opening stanza - managed to find just two open looks, missing both.

"We really did a good job of holding D.J. Byrd to no points in the second half, which was great for our team," Hardaway said. "Holding them to 20 in the second half was key. They got a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half, and we wanted to limit that.

"We did a great job of contesting shots. I think D.J. Bryd only had one or two clean looks, and that was it, and we got out and contested those. It was great to go out there and hold them off."

"The perimeter guys picked it up a notch," added freshman Mitch McGary. "Purdue cuts hard off their screens to get open, and we were closing out the gap really well on that and getting a hand up. That was a huge difference in the second half."


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