After a so-so first half, Maryland basketball pulled away for a decisive win over No. 12 Purdue, snapping the Boilermakers eight-game win streak with a 70-56 win. The Terps freshmen led the way on a night where five players scored in double figures, and a stifling second half defense allowed Maryland to pull away late. Here’s what else stood out.
Maryland made life difficult for Carsen Edwards.
After stripping Eric Ayala with 3:35 remaining in the first half and blazing down the court for a dunk, the junior let out a smile. It was Edwards’ world in the opening period, as the junior torched Maryland for 17 of Purdue’s 38 first-half points.
In the second half, that smile was nowhere to be found. Edwards shot just 2-for-13, and didn’t get a clean look thanks to lockdown defense from Darryl Morsell. He finished with a game-high 24 points, but it took 27 shots to get there. Edwards never seemed the same after Eric Ayala dropped him and hit a three with 12:25 to go, then did the same thing off an out-of-bounds play on the next possession. After that, he missed his last six shots from the field.
“Darryl has to understand that what he is doing for our team is just as important as Anthony [Cowan] scoring, or Bruno [Fernando] rebounds, and I think he’s accepted that,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game.
The Terps’ defense as a whole was dominant.
Maryland did a relatively good job in the first half, holding Purdue to 40 percent shooting and 35 percent from three. While it wasn’t bad overall, it felt like many of the Boilermakers’ baskets came when the Terps would try to crawl back into the game before shooting themselves in the foot by committing a turnover or not taking advantage of a defensive stop.
That changed in the second half. Maryland held Purdue to a paltry 6-of-36 (16.7 percent) over the final 20 minutes, including 1-of-16 on three-point attempts. The Terps set the tempo early in the the second half, blocking four shots in the first three minutes.
That energy extended to the perimeter, as Morsell and Anthony Cowan Jr. continued to fight through screens and make life difficult for Edwards and Ryan Cline. As much as Edwards struggled in the second half, Cline’s numbers were even worse. The senior missed all seven of his shots, including five from beyond the arc, a stark dropoff from his 3-for-5 and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc performance over the first 20 minutes.
Less than two weeks after Wisconsin made Maryland pay for shoddy defense down the stretch, the Terps have taken it to another level on that end of the floor.
“The thing that’s kind of amazed me about Maryland is that young guys usually aren’t good defenders. It takes them awhile,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “But these guys can guard. A lot of the young guys I deal with it takes a little bit of time, but [Turgeon] has done a great job with them.”
Maryland’s freshmen came up huge.
When a reporter told Eric Ayala that he and his fellow freshman scored 21 straight points at one point in the second half, the usually thoughtful guard had to interject.
“Oh wow,” he murmured. “That’s tough.”
It’s a stark contrast from the game at Mackey Arena two months ago, when Maryland looked like a team full of freshmen. The Terps held Purdue without a field goal the final 5:18 but couldn’t capitalize, going on a similar drought for the final 4:20. The ball usually ended up in Cowan’s hands, which didn’t end well, as he shot 4-for-17 on the night. In the rematch, the Terps’ freshmen stepped up with Cowan still trying to get out of a slump and Purdue double-teaming Bruno Fernando at every opportunity.
Both teams have improved a lot in the past two months, but the biggest difference may be the trust Maryland has in its young rotation. In December’s meeting, the Terps’ freshmen combined for 21 points. On Tuesday night, they scored 42.
“I went back and watched the film [of the game in December] and it made my stomach hurt because man, we were young,” Turgeon said. “We had no business [being] in that game and we’ve come a long way. They are young guys but have a lot of experience now and they just keep getting better.”