Purdue has come a very long way since we last saw Maryland. When the Terrapins came to Mackey the Boilers prevailed 62-60 thanks to a heroic last-second blocked shot by Nojel Eastern. That might have been the game that kept this team from spiraling off into the ether, as well. It was the lone victory in a five game stretch that eventuall saw Purdue slide to 6-5 after losing to Notre Dame. Had Purdue dropped that game and been 5-6 instead of 6-5 who knows what would have happened.
Now it is time for the rematch, and it is probably the toughest game left on our schedule. Of the remaining eight games the Terps are the only team left in the top 35 of the current NET rankings. Three of the remaining eight games are at home in Mackey Arena and trips to Indiana, Nebraska, and Northwestern, while difficult, come against teams that just look broken and done at the moment. A loss here would be far from crippling, but we are now playing for something bigger than mere NCAA positioning.
If Purdue wins in College Park it is going to be in great shape for a 24th Big Ten Championship.
From: College Park, MD
Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Tip Time: 6:30pm
Location: College Park, MD
Arena: Xfinity Center (17,950)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2017-18 Record: 18-13, 8-10 Big Ten)
2018-19 Record: (18-6, 9-4)
Opponent Blog: Testudo Times
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 5-2
Last Maryland Win: 72-61 at Maryland on 2/6/2016
Last Purdue Win: 62-60 at Purdue on 12/6/2018
NCAA Tournament History: 2002 National Champions, 27 appearances
Coach: Mark Turgeon (169-83 in 8th season at Maryland, 422-242 overall)
That first game back in November is the closest Purdue has come to losing at home this year, so obviously we need to take this game seriously. The Boilers trailed by 4 at the half and by 2 with 7 minutes left, but made the plays it needed to make in the end. It was a coming out party for Aaron Wheeler, who had a career high 15 points off the bench. We limited Bruno Fernando to 9 points, but he still had 13 rebounds.
Things were in peril late as Purdue elected to foul leading by 3 inside the final 10 seconds. Anthony Cowan Jr. hit the first attempt and missed the second, leading to a Maryland offensive rebound and the strategy backfiring. Cowan then got off a three with two seconds left that was blocked by Eastern. It was actually the second time we fouled Cowan with less than 10 seconds left and leading by 3, as he hit two free throws with 8 seconds left before Carsen Edwards was fouled and hit two with 7 seconds left.
Cowan led them with 18 points in that game and Darryl Morsell had 15. Purdue’s entire rotation has changed since then as Trevion Williams only played one minute, but he is now starting. Matt Haarms did a good job on Fernando with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. We’ll need a similar limitation on Fernando again. Jalen Smith was also held to 7 points and he averages 11.8.
Maryland is no doubt a good team, but they come in having lost three of 5 with losses to Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Before that they won their first six games after the restart of Big Ten play. This is also the beginning of a make-or-break stretch for their own nascent Big Ten title dreams. After playing us they have to go to Michigan and Iowa and they host the Wolverines again on March 3. They may be two games back in the loss column, but three of their seven remaining games are against Michigan and Purdue.
This one won’t be easy, but we are playing much better basketball than we did in early December. I think the key is limiting Fernando from having a big game. We also need more contributions from Ryan Cline (4 points the first time), and either Eric Hunter or Sasha Stefanovic (both scoreless the first time). We know what we’re going to get from Carsen. Trevion and Haarms did pretty well the first time around. We just need the balanced offense and second half dominance we have had of late.