Wednesday, January 31, 2018 9:40 pm
Purdue doesn't find its shot, but it doesn't matter
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
Purdue shot 35 percent in the first half, got outrebounded and made only four triples. The Boilermakers lead by 11.
The difference in the first half was Purdue's defense, which hasn't gotten enough credit during this 17-game win streak. The Boilers were stifling on the defensive end, holding Maryland to just 32-percent shooting and forcing 11 Terrapin turnovers. Off of those turnovers, Purdue scored 14 points, essentially the difference in the half. As I wrote during the pregame, keeping guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter out of the paint would be key and the Boilermakers have done that. The pair that combined for 39 points the first time these teams met has just 13 points (three field goals) at the break.
It helped the Boilers' cause that they were able to hold on to the ball themselves. Purdue turned the ball over just once and not at all until an offensive foul by Dakota Mathias at the 5:04 mark.
Despite all the turnovers, Purdue doesn't have any fast break points, a testament to the home team's patience on offense. The Boilermakers have been content to run through their offense on most possessions, trying to work the ball inside to Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms. Maryland is missing 7-foot-1 center Michal Cekovsky, so it is undersized down low. Freshman Bruno Fernando has again struggled to contain Haas, who made his first three shots and has been able to get inside position just about any time he wants.
The only quibble in the half for Purdue might be the rebounding. After getting outrebounded in five of six games, its losing on the boards again against a much smaller team. It hasn't mattered yet, but it could be a cause for concern for a team with championship aspirations.