Well, Purdue played one good half. The first half saw Purdue dominate inside, hit a few jump shots, and played sticky defense (sans Caleb "Big Turnstile" Swanigan). The second half saw Purdue chucking line drives at the rim from the outside, turning the ball over, and collapsing in the last 5 minutes. Purdue shot 3-25 from the 3 point line, let that sink in for a second. I'm absolutely positive if A.J. Hammons shot 25 3's in one game, he would make more than 3. Maybe we should just let A.J. chuck from the outside, because honestly, it couldn't be any worse. For a team that supposedly signed the best shooter in the nation in the last 3 classes (per Matt Painter) in Stephens, Mathias, and Cline, Purdue can be one of the worst shooting teams I have ever seen. If Mathias and Cline don't hit shots they are a liability on the floor, because at this point, both are physically overmatched on defense. They went a combined 2-7, with Mathias hitting a garbage time 3 after the game was already lost. That's not going to get it done, and I don't even want to talk about Biggie chucking up 3's from the top of key flatter than a week old 2 liter of coke. In the second half, Purdue couldn't hit shots, couldn't get to the line, and couldn't turn Maryland over. That's the story of the game, and that's why the Terps won 72-61.
I usually don't like to go here, but I do need to address the rotting elephant in the room, the officiating. Purdue shot 3 free throws. Maryland's free throw numbers are inflated because of late game fouling, but they probably shot at least 18 while the game was still in question, most in the second half. Haas and Hammons took 26 combined shots, and attempted 0 free throws. Sadly, this is pretty much par for the officiating class. In big games, with big game environments, the refs call touch fouls on the perimeter and on the drive and swallow the whistle in the post. One play in particular sticks in my head. A.J. Hammons is posting up, and Diamond Stone drapes his arm over A.J.'s shoulder in order to prevent the post entry. This is a foul. There is no way Stone can place his armpit on A.J.'s shoulder and it not be a foul. A.J. then attempts to back Stone into the paint, and A.J. picks up his 3rd foul. It is what it is, and it's probably not going to change this season, and possibly ever. NCAA officials have no idea how to officiate post play, so when the bright lights are on, they simply refuse to do so.
Player of the Game: A.J. Hammons
This one was hard, because A.J. didn't play his best game. He put up 18 points, and 10 rebounds, but he played mediocre defense at times, and let Diamond Stone off the hook with some little hook flip shots, instead of taking it to the Maryland big man, and possibly putting him on the bench. It's hard to complain about 18 and 10, but I just felt like there was more to had. That said, without A.J. was the only player to break double digits for the Boilermakers, and at times, was unstoppable when Purdue made the entry pass from the top of the key and let A.J. seal his man for an easy dunk. I would have loved to have seen that a few more times.
Play(s) of the Game: Caleb Swaingan
Sorry, but this isn't a positive. Purdue lost this game at the 5 minute mark in the second half. It was back and forth until then, but then Swanigan put Maryland on a run with a terrible defensive effort on Robert Carter, a bad early 3, and a turnover trying to force the ball in the paint. Maryland took advantage, and buried Purdue before Painter could get Swanigan on the bench. You can't go brain dead in a big game, and Biggie just fell apart around the 5 minute mark.
Problem of the Game: Shooting, or the lack thereof
Purdue can play with Maryland and not hit 3's, but they will never beat a good team like Maryland if they can't hit 3's: Vince went 1-6, Swanigan went 0-5, Dakota went 2-5, A.J. went 0-2, P.J. went 0-2, Ray went 0-3, Cline went 0-2. That's just pathetic, and there should be nothing but shame in the locker room. In an era where the 3 point shot rules the day, Purdue was putrid, and tends to be putrid, when the pressure gets turned up. My only hope, and it's a small hope, is that Kendall gets his head in a good place, and comes alive down the stretch. He has the ability to be an elite shooter, but there is just too much going against him right now for me to be that hopeful. Otherwise, I just don't see it happening.