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Maryland men’s basketball at No. 3 Purdue preview

Maryland will look to end its longest losing streak of the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland men’s basketball continues its disappointing season with No. 3 Purdue on the road at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Maryland is slipping in the conference standings with a 3-10 conference record and it is in 12th place. The Terps have dropped four straight for the first time this season and will look to avoid making it five in a row on Sunday.

Maryland is coming off a disastrous 110-87 loss to Iowa at home. Maryland gave up the most points it ever has at the Xfinity Center. While the Terps’ offense displayed one of its better performances of the season, Maryland played disastrous defense.

Now, the Terps head to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on one of the best teams in the entire country in Purdue.

“You have to have a short mindset or a quick turnaround mentality,” interim head coach Danny Manning said. “We’ve got to have that type of mindset moving forward against a very talented Purdue team.”

Purdue (21-4, 10-4 Big Ten)

2020-21: 18-10 (13-6 Big Ten)

Matt Painter is in his 17th season as Purdue’s head coach and this years team might just be his best yet. Last year, Purdue posed a big threat in the Big Ten, finishing fourth in the conference which earned it a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Painter has three Big Ten regular season titles and one tournament title, but has a great chance to add to that collection this season.

Purdue has just four losses on the season, including in its last outing to Michigan on Thursday night, but it is still one of the best teams in the country and a legitimate threat to win the national championship. Before its most recent loss, Purdue had rallied off six straight wins which earned them the No. 3 spot in the latest AP poll.

Players to know

Jaden Ivey, sophomore guard, 6-foot-4, No. 23 — Jaden Ivey has exploded onto the collegiate seen as one of the most electric players in the entire country. On such a deep Purdue roster, he stands out as the go-to option. He leads Purdue in scoring with 17.7 points per game, while also shooting 41% from three. he is a dynamic player who can score in a variety of ways and Maryland is going to have its hands full against another all-conference caliber talent.

Zach Edey, sophomore center, 7-foot-4, No. 15 — Zach Edey is a giant and an absolute force in the paint for Purdue. Edey averages 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His impact on both ends of the floor is remarkable. When he is playing at a high level, so is Purdue. The Terps bigs have struggled against the top big man in the conference, including Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, so they are likely to have a tough time dealing with Edey.

Trevion Williams, senior forward, 6-foot-10, No. 50 — Trevion Williams has embraced a role as the first guy off the bench for this stacked Purdue team. But that hasn't stopped him from being one of the Boilermakers most productive players. Williams is another beast on the inside. He averages 12.3 points per game, the third most on the team and leads the team in rebounds.

Strength

Size. Purdue throws out huge lineups with Edey and Williams at the forefront. It is hard to defend the paint against Purdue, who likes to dominate from inside-out. They are also a terrific rebounding team, collecting the most rebounds in the Big Ten. Maryland does not have even close to the size that Purdue does, meaning Qudus Wahab and Julian Reese are in for a long day against the Boilermakers.

‘‘Those guys do a terrific job of carving out space and finishing through and over the defense,” Manning said.

Weakness

Defense. While Purdue has the best offense in the Big Ten, its defense has a ton of holes that Maryland can potentially expose. Purdue gives up the fourth-most points per game in the conference with opponents averaging 69.2 points per game against the Boilermakers. Maryland doesn't have the most potent offense but it did have success against Iowa, even though it was a blowout loss, which it could look to build on against Purdue on Sunday.

Three things to watch

1. What will Maryland’s effort look like? Maryland has lost by a combined 38 points in its last two games to Ohio State and Iowa. While both those teams are more talented and better than the Terps, a real problem was the lack of effort. Manning acknowledged the effort was not where it needed to be after the loss to Purdue. It is evident, particularly on the defensive end, that the Terps aren't playing with the necessary energy they need to win games. It will be interesting to see if that changes against one of the best teams in the country.

2. Will Eric Ayala break out of his shooting slump? Ayala is Maryland’s leading scorer and best offensive option when he is shooting the ball well. However, he has struggled to find his groove in recent games and Maryland as a team hasn't been able to keep up with its opponents. In the last four games, Ayala is averaging just 9.5 points per game on 24% shooting from the field and 20% from three. If Maryland is going to have any shot of competing with Purdue, its going to need a big shooting day from its star.

3. How will Maryland handle Purdue’s size? As previously mentioned, Purdue’s size is one of its strong suits, and while Maryland has centers to throw out there, they have had a difficult time guarding taller and stronger bigs in the Big Ten. There have been times this season where Maryland has been physically abused in the post. The Terps might have to switch around their defensive coverages around against Purdue, which could mean double coverages or a bigger lineup on the floor.

“We’ve got to make sure we do our work early and try to move them off the block as far as possible,” Manning said.