Maryland men’s basketball almost shocked the college basketball world with an upset at No. 3 Purdue. However, it came up just short, falling to the Boilermakers, 58-55.
Maryland showed remarkable resiliency, battling back from down 16 on the road to cut the deficit to one with seconds remaining. Despite the comeback and a terrific defensive game plan against Purdue, Maryland failed to overcome another poor shooting night. The Terps shot 37% from the field and 14% from three.
Maryland’s star guard Jahmir Young was averaging 26 points per game in his last three games entering Sunday, but hit a cold streak against Purdue. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting, including 0-for-6 from three.
Julian Reese, on the other hand, had a career high in the Big Ten, finishing with 19 points.
With the loss, Maryland moved 3-5 in the conference and 0-5 in conference road games with a three-game home stand coming up.
Let’s get to some takeaways.
Maryland’s offensive road woes continued, despite a strong defensive performance.
Maryland away from College Park looks like a completely different team than in its home arena. Life on the road is not easy in the Big Ten, but Maryland has made it a near impossible task to win on the road, and it starts with its offense.
In Maryland’s five conference road games this season — all of which were losses — the Terps have lost by a combined 71 points.
Maryland’s intensity and energy level to open games is evidently much higher at home. It isn’t unheard of to be better at home than on the road in college basketball. In fact, when you look around the conference — and country — most teams’ record are better at home than on the road. But the drop off in offensive production for Maryland is so staggering it’s almost hard to fathom.
Against Purdue, Maryland’s defensive intensity in the second half was phenomenal. The Terps forced eight second-half turnovers and held Purdue to 0-for-6 shooting from three and just 23 points, numbers that certainly should have produced a win. Maryland’s problem on the road is its offense, not its defense.
The Terps completely lose their offensive identity on the road. Willard admitted that his team gets “rattled” on the road, which leads to poor play. He has also blamed Maryland’s poor starts on scheduling because of the lack of practice time and routine Maryland has when it is constantly on the road.
Maryland’s winning offensive formula is simple: attack the basket and limit 3-point attempts. When it has done that, it’s yielded positive offensive results. However, on the road, it constantly drifts away from that, leading to dysfunctional offense that produces a ton of 3-point attempts with few makes.
Since flipping the calendar to 2023, Maryland has played two conference home games and four conference road games. In its four road games, it’s averaged 21 3-point attempts per game and 54.5 points. In its two home games, Maryland’s shot 14 threes per game and averaged 72 points.
The jury is done deliberating on if Maryland is a good shooting team. The ruling is the Terps are an abysmal group from long range. Maryland is the second worst 3-point shooting team in the conference. After the Terps’ win over Michigan on Thursday, Willard said the coaching staff emphasizes getting to the basket and only taking quality looks from three.
When Maryland is on the road, it resorts back to chucking up threes with little success. Maryland shot 14% from three against Purdue on 21 attempts.
Few outsiders expected Maryland to win Sunday, let alone be in the game down the stretch, but if Maryland is going to find its way into the tournament and make a push in the final six weeks of the season, it is going to have to start performing at a higher level away from XFINITY Center.
An undersized Maryland team impressed against Zach Edey, with Julian Reese leading the way.
Coming into Sunday’s matinee, Maryland game planned for a tree trunk — an immovable force that makes his living in the painted area of the basketball court. Zach Edey — the 7-foot-4 monster that has taken the college basketball world by storm and is the national player of the year favorite — has terrorized almost every opponent he’s faced this season. Maryland was next in line for Edey and a Boilermaker team that has lost just one game all season.
Edey finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Although that looks like a dominant stat line and Edey certainly had his way with the Terps throughout the game, Maryland’s game plan worked.
Maryland threw a ton of different bodies at Edey and doubled him often, forcing Purdue’s supporting cast to beat it. Purdue is a better shooting team than Maryland, but it still ranks ninth in the Big Ten and is inconsistent from beyond the arc. No one else on Purdue reached double figures and Purdue shot 15% from deep.
Maryland shot just as bad from three (14%), which hampered its efforts at completing a 16-point comeback. Maryland’s defensive game plan worked and it did enough to limit Purdue’s offense, but it was the Terps’ offense that led to another loss.
Maryland sophomore big man Julian Reese had the best conference game of his career. Reese averaged 15 points per game through the first six games this season, but had not scored above 10 until Sunday.
Reese received few designed touches in the paint and rarely got an opportunity to showcase his talent on the block against other opposing Big Ten bigs this season. But against Purdue, Reese was phenomenal. Maryland’s guards constantly fed him and let him go to work on the low block. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, also doing a solid job defending Edey.
If Reese can constantly provide the Terps with the offensive production he showed Sunday, Maryland will be set up for success moving forward.
Maryland’s schedule is easier moving forward with more home tilts.
Maryland’s road woes are no secret to anyone in the conference. The Terps are 0-5 in conference road games this season.
The good news for Maryland — which has played four of its last six games on the road — is its next three games, and five of its next seven, are in College Park. Maryland is 3-0 in conference home games.
Maryland will not have to travel and play in hostile environments in the coming weeks and the Terps’ upcoming opponents are not top-tier. Maryland’s next four games are against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Indiana and Minnesota. Wisconsin beat Maryland the first time they played back in December, but the Badgers have struggled in recent weeks.
Indiana — a projected Big Ten favorite in the preseason — has disappointed all season, but is playing better, winning three straight against Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State. As for Minnesota and Nebraska, they are two of the worst teams in the conference.
The next four games — three of which are at home — are crucial for Maryland’s tournament chances. At 3-5 in the Big Ten, Maryland will likely have to finish .500 in the conference to hear its name called on Selection Sunday. If it continues to win at home, and sneaks in a few wins on the road, Maryland should not have a problem getting to that mark.