Earlier this week, Maryland lost their first game in over a month, largely due to their inability to make shots during a key stretch to start the second half. But many of those shots didn't focus on the Terps attacking the basket, drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. As a result, they only attempted 18 free throws and made just 10 of those.
On Saturday, Maryland once again got back to the line against Purdue, taking 31 attempts and making 27 of them, an 87% showing. Those points accounted for just over 39% of Maryland's offense against the Boilermakers, much above their season average of 26.4% (Kenpom).
While Maryland still didn't play as well offensively as they've shown they're capable of playing this season, they were able to get their confidence back following their worst outing of the season in their loss to Illinois.
"Here's what I told the team before the game," head coach Mark Turgeon said following his team's win. "I said guys we've played 16 games. 15 games you've been really good. We haven't played great, but you've been dialed in, we've won some games. The other night was an aberration. Give Illinois all the credit, they were ready, they were more inspired, they deserved to win. They were great. But we've got to understand that wasn't what we're about. We've got to get back to what we're about. And if we do that, we'll be successful."
The Terps shot just over 29% from the field in the first half against Purdue and entered halftime tied with the Boilermakers. But in the second half, Maryland shot 45.8% from the floor and got to the line 20 times, converting 18 of those attempts.
Maryland also forced Purdue into making 16 turnovers in the game, which the Terps converted into 16 points.
"I just thought we played smart," Turgeon said. "I thought we guarded guys the right way."
Also highlighted in Maryland's win was their team depth. Damonte Dodd picked up two quick fouls to start the game, but Jon Graham stepped in and played 21 minutes off the bench, excelling on defense against Purdue's frontcourt players.
"I thought Jon Graham was terrific," said Turgeon. "Traditionally you think you have to put big guys on those big guys to guard them, but I think Jon was our best defender guarding those guys. He got underneath them, in front of them, and he knew help was coming."
Maryland will return to action at home on Wednesday, when they take on Rutgers at the XFINITY Center following their two-game road trip to Illinois and Purdue. The Terps should have an opportunity to continue to rebuild their confidence against the Scarlet Knights, who have struggled in their inaugural Big Ten season, before they face Michigan State next Saturday in a rematch of the double-overtime thriller won by Maryland on December 30th.