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The Journal Gazette

  • Maryland forward Jalen Smith (25) defends against Purdue center Matt Haarms (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Thursday, December 06, 2018 9:30 pm

Purdue beats No. 23 Maryland, 62-60, first Top 25 win this season

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette


How it Happened

Purdue brought much better energy early in the game on defense than it had against Michigan and made everything difficult for Maryland's big men. Center Bruno Fernando was hounded by two and sometimes three defenders nearly every time he caught the ball and was clearly frustrated at times throughout the first half.

Purdue led early, but the offensive problems the Boilermakers had against Michigan continued to haunt them and Maryland ripped off a 13-2 run to take an 18-10 lead with 13:26 remaining in the first half. That was the low point of the half for the Boilermakers as Maryland hit several 3-pointers and Purdue couldn't get anything to fall despite some good looks at the basket.

Those looks started falling as the half wore on, however, and Maryland cooled off bit. Carsen Edwards took a breather after going scoreless in the first 10 minutes and came back in to score six points in 30 seconds and knot the score at 21. Edwards had 10 points in the final 7:30 of the first half to keep the Boilers in the game.

The final stretch of the first half was filled with fouls and turnovers on both sides. Maryland was able to build a seven-point lead, but Purdue's Aaron Wheeler knocked in a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to make it a 34-30 game at halftime despite Purdue shooting just 36 percent from the field in the half. The teams combined for 19 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

The second half started well for the Boilers when Edwards buried a 3-pointer to bring his team within one. On the ensuing Maryland possession, however, point guard Nojel Eastern went down in a pile of bodies and struggled to get up. He eventually got to his feet, but hobbled off the floor. He returned after a four-minute stretch on the bench.

The game remained close as the second half wore on, but Maryland stretched its lead back to six when everyone backed off Fernando and he drained a 3 from the top of the key to put the Terps in front by six. Not to be outdone, however, Purdue's Matt Haarms, all 7-foot-3 of him, hit a 3 to cut the lead in half and Grady Eifert followed with another long ball from the left wing knot the score at 41. Eifert's tying shot brought forth the loudest roar of the night from Mackey Arena with about 15 minutes remaining.

The game remained close into the game's final stretch. Maryland took a 52-49 lead, but the freshman Wheeler buried a 3 tie the game and then Edwards knocked one in from beyond the arc to give Purdue the lead. After Edwards found Wheeler with a nice pass in transition for a layup, the Boilers led 57-54 with 6:07 left and Maryland was forced to call a timeout.

In the closing minutes, both teams went ice cold from the field. Neither team scored for more than three minutes and went a combined 1 for 11 in a four-minute stretch. The Purdue defense was superb, forcing a pair of shot-clock violations and giving the Boilers the ball with 48 seconds remaining and a 59-56 lead. 

Edwards turned the ball over on that ensuing Purdue possession as he tried to split a double team and Maryland sliced the lead to two with a free throw with 21.6 seconds left. Still, Purdue remained calm and knocked in enough free throws to lead in the closing seconds. Maryland had a chance to tie with three seconds remaining, but Eastern blocked a potential game-winning 3 and Purdue hung on for a huge Big Ten win.

Player of the Game: Aaron Wheeler

The Purdue freshman had a breakout performance, scoring a career-high 15 points on 6 of 7 from the field, his first double-digit performance. He went 3 for 4 from beyond the arc and gave Purdue a second offensive weapon on the perimeter when Maryland took away Carsen Edwards. Wheeler also had three rebounds, two blocks and a steal. It was the second straight game he'd set a career-high in scoring. 

Facts and Figures

Purdue is 4-0 at Mackey Arena this season after going 16-1 last year. ... The win is Purdue's first of the season against a ranked team in four tries. This was the fourth game out of five against a ranked team for the Boilers. ... Maryland entered the game No. 3 in the country with an average rebound margin of +14.4. The Terrapins outrebounded Purdue 39-29. ... Edwards came in leading the Big Ten in scoring with 24.4 points per game and scored 20 on 4-of-15 shooting. He turned the ball over just three times after averaging five turnovers in the previous five games. ... Fort Wayne native and former Bishop Dwenger forward Eifert started and had seven points, two steals and a rebound. He split two free throws in the final seconds to keep Purdue in front. ... Maryland's pair of 6-foot-10 big men, Jalen Smith and Fernando, combined for 16 points and 21 rebounds. ... Purdue held Maryland to 35 percent shooting. 

What's Next?

The Boilermakers return to action Sunday when they take on Texas (5-3) at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2. Texas has lost three in a row following a 5-0 start, including tight losses to Radford and VCU. The Longhorns have also beaten No. 14 North Carolina and Arkansas.