No. 17 Maryland basketball remains undefeated at home after picking up a 57-50 win over Purdue Saturday.
Here are three things we noticed from the Terps’ 14th win of the season.
1. It was a tale of two halves for Maryland
For the first time in a long time, the Terps played with a lot of energy from the opening tip.
Thanks to an old-fashioned three-point play from freshman Donta Scott and a pair of three-pointers from Eric Ayala and Jalen Smith, Maryland jumped out to an early 9-0 lead, causing Purdue head coach Matt Painter to call an early timeout.
Maryland’s fast start carried it through the first half, as it shot 53.8 percent from the floor and went 7-of-15 from deep.
“When [Jalen and I are] both hitting threes, it’s a great day,” Scott said.
Most of the Terps’ looks came from good ball movement and passing — they assisted on 11 of their 14 made shots in the first half. Six of Maryland’s first-half assists came from senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr, who utilized the skip pass to find a lot of his open teammates en route to a 36-20 halftime lead.
But coming out of the break, Purdue seemed to wake up.
After scoring 20 points through the first 20 minutes, the Boilermakers scored the same amount in just under nine minutes of play in the second half. The Terps, on the other hand, struggled to make shots, finishing the period shooting 28 percent from the field and without a made shot from deep.
“We were a little more stagnant in the second half, but give them credit,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “Their defense was really probably the best we’ve seen all year. ... We really couldn’t get downhill on them, and we’ve been able to get downhill on a lot of people in this building.
“So you’ve got to give a lot of credit to them and the way they guarded, and they locked in after halftime.”
2. Donta Scott was vital for the Terps
Against Wisconsin on Tuesday night, Scott looked like a freshman for the first time this season. He went 0-of-4 from the floor, including an airball that turned into two points for the Badgers on the other end.
But against the Boilermakers on Saturday, Scott redeemed himself from the jump.
He was aggressive immediately, scoring Maryland’s first three points of the game. The Philadelphia native did a great job at moving without the ball and allowing his teammates to find him. All 11 of Scott’s first half points were off assists, including a perfectly executed inbounds play.
This time around, the Terps complete the inbound play. Darryl Morsell finds Donta Scott for an easy layup. pic.twitter.com/aHpZlIA67Y— Sean Montiel (@SeanMMontiel) January 18, 2020
Scott’s offensive contributions were key in the Terps jumping out to an early lead in the first half. Without his 13 points — and a rough day for Cowan — Maryland may have suffered its first loss at home this season.
“He’s much more effective when he’s making shots,” sophomore guard Aaron Wiggins said. “Because, he becomes a dual threat, offense and defense. We all know defensively he’s going to give all he has, offensively he is going to give all he has, when it comes to rebounding and making the right plays. But when he’s hitting those open shots, it makes him more of a threat and it just opens the court up a little bit more for everyone else.”
3. Maryland minimized Purdue’s bigs
With just over 13 minutes remaining before halftime, Purdue forward Trevion Williams caught a pass directly on the block and sized up Smith with one dribble. While he placed the ball on the floor, Wiggins doubled the big man as Cowan slid over and denied any entry pass to Purdue center Matt Haarms.
The Terps forced Williams into a skip pass to the opposite corner, which resulted in a Boilermaker miss and a Wiggins three-pointer at the other end.
Entering into the game against Maryland, Williams and Haarms — two of the Boilermakers’ three leading scorers — were averaging a combined 21.2 points on 57 percent shooting. The duo also grabbed 13.1 boards per contest.
But Smith and Scott — along with efforts from their teammates — limited the duo to a total of nine boards and 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Maryland never allowed the Boilermaker big men to ever get into any sort of offensive rhythm.
“Stix played really tough today, he played physical, he wasn’t allowing them to get any easy buckets. And I mean, his post presence defensively was just great,” Wiggins said. “He said to us in a media timeout, he said, ‘I’m going to get the big guy off the boards. Our guards gotta rebound.’ So I mean, he took that personally. He wanted to make sure that he was doing everything he could to make sure that he was getting stops and we were getting rebounds.”