Two of the Big Ten’s top teams squared off in College Park on Tuesday night as the Purdue Boilermakers took on the Maryland Terrapins. The Boilermakers put their eight-game winning streak on the line, while Maryland was looking to avenge an early-season loss in West Lafayette and stay in the conference crown race.
The first half belonged to the Boilermakers as they jumped out to a 38-30 halftime lead. The Carsen Edwards-Ryan Cline combo was rolling, and the interior Purdue defense held Bruno Fernando to just 4 points and 3 rebounds.
The script flipped in the second half as Maryland stormed out of the gate on a 10-2 run to tie it at 40. Maryland’s second half defense was excellent and the Terps pulled ahead as the half wore on. Fernando scored eight second half points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Jaylen Smith finished with 16 points. The Terps blitzed the Boilermakers 40-18 in the second half and won going away 70-56.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from the matchup.
Maryland’s Freshmen Continue To Grow Up And Impress
After a pedestrian first half, the young Terps showed impressive growth by taking over the second half.
The third youngest team in the country dominated the second half with much of it on the backs of its talented freshmen. At one point, Maryland’s freshmen scored 21 straight points. Its defense held Purdue to an abysmal 6-34 shooting.
In all Maryland’s freshmen scored 42 points on the night, led by Smith’s 16 points. Eric Ayala scored 15, and Aaron Wiggins added 11.
Coach Mark Turgeon will tell you that this freshmen class continues to be a work in progress, but that progress continues to build, making the Terrapins an intriguing team with six Big Ten games remaining.
Purdue’s Composure Issues Crept Back Up
The Boilermakers picked a bad time to have its worst half of the season. Some of that is life on the road in the Big Ten, but there was some concerning play that might suggest Purdue isn’t quite over some of its composure issues from earlier in the season.
Purdue, a young team itself, had some issues in games against Belmont, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame in its non-conference slate with composure during long stretches of play, especially in the second half. There was some hope that it was gone during Purdue’s impressive winning streak, but it appeared again in the second half of tonight’s game.
Bad shots, poor rebounding, poor defensive rotations, and a deer-in-the-headlights look took ahold during Maryland’s second half run, and Purdue did not seem to have an answer.
Purdue still has plenty of opportunity to fix some of these issues, but there has to be some worry that it could appear again at another inopportune time.
Maryland Can Be A Beast Of A Defensive Team (When It Wants To Be)
We knew this one already, but wow, can Maryland be good on defense!
The Terps had a poor defensive first half, but really got after Purdue in the second half and only allowed 18 points on six made field goals. Fernando altered shots at the rim, Darryl Morsell made Carsen Edwards’s life difficult, and Maryland’s effort and pressure forced the Boilermakers into bad and rushed shots. This snowballed for Purdue and allowed Maryland to get out in transition, and lead to a huge victory for the Terrapins.
So much of tournament play is about getting stops, and Maryland can be an absolute defensive menace come tournament time. Let’s see if the consistency can be there as well.