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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 5:30 pm

Who can stop Isaac Haas?

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Maryland and Purdue have played once already this season. That came back in early December during those quirky first two games of the Big Ten season. At that point, the Boilermakers' current 17-game win streak was just two games old and Maryland had a healthy Justin Jackson in the lineup.

Full disclosure: I was a student at Maryland at the time (yes, I graduated that recently) and I covered the game for a Terps media outlet. What struck me at the time, as it has so many times since, was the polish of Isaac Haas in the post. He made his first five shots of the game from a variety of angles and frustrated Maryland's freshman center Bruno Fernando so much that after one particularly feathery turnaround jumper from Haas, the Terp big man visibly shook his head before taking the ball out of bounds.

Haas finished with 21 points on 10 made field goals, a total he has matched in each of the last two games. Eventually, Maryland began sending a second defender when Haas got the ball in the post, something Indiana mostly avoided doing on Sunday. Dakota Mathias had plenty of open looks as a result and finished with 20 points as the Boilermakers won 80-75.

I will be watching to see what new wrinkles Maryland tries to throw at Haas. In his media availability on Monday, coach Matt Painter said the key for the big man is always to react to each defensive look as it happens rather than trying to make a decision before he even gets the ball.

"(Opposing teams) can run at you with a guard, they can come big-to-big (sending a second big man to trap Haas), they can wait for you to dribble, they can do some different things," Painter said. "You want him to just play off his instincts and read the situation."

What else I'm watching for: Can Purdue keep Maryland sophomores Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter out of the paint? The two Terrapin guards combined for 39 points in these teams' first meeting, proving particularly adept at getting into the lane and creating from there. Cowan and Huerter shot 14 free throws in that game, so Purdue's one-on-one defense on the perimeter could play a key role in limiting the pair's scoring ability.

Prediction: These teams have gone in essentially opposite directions since their first meeting. That should continue tonight.

Purdue 82, Maryland 71

dsinn@jg.net