I’m getting a late start on the matchups for the second meeting for the Boilers and Terrapins so let’s jump right into it!
1 | Ethan Morton vs. Jahmir Young
It is no secret that the formula for success for Maryland is star point guard Jahmir Young. The 6’2 senior is averaging a team best 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Young is a dynamic guard who has scored 20+ points seven times this season but was held to just 10 points in the first meeting with Purdue. In that game, he was just 4/18 from the field (4/12 behind the arc) but he did contribute with 7 assists and 7 rebounds to just 2 turnovers. Needless to say, that was nearly enough to topple Purdue in the first meeting as Maryland lost 58-55 in a rock fight type of game where Purdue scored only 23 points in the second half.
Being called upon to guard Young will be Ethan Morton again who will try to use his length and strength to make it as difficult as possible for Young the entire game. It is hard to expect another result but holding him in check while preventing others, like Julian Reese who scored 19 in the previous game, will be key to Purdue getting a supremely important road victory that may end up sealing the B1G title with IU’s loss against Northwestern. What does holding him in check look like? Limit him below his season average in points and don’t let him get into the lane to setup his supporting cast around him for more than 6 assists.
2 | Zach Edey vs. Julian Reese
This was the prime matchup in the first game as Edey went for a game high 24 points with 16 rebounds but had 5 turnovers while Reese scored 19 points but ended up with 4 personal fouls. Can Reese duplicate that type of production to pair with Young’s scoring ability against the best big man in the country? Reese is averaging 10.6 points per game but the game against Purdue appears to be quite a bit of an outlier as he has struggled against other quality frontcourt players like TJD (10 points), Dickinson (2 & 6), UCLA (4), and Omoruyi (8). The key here is not allowing Reese to get free in the pick and roll for easy buckets off lobs and leaving Zach in space having to defend both Young and Reese.
On the other hand, Maryland simply doesn’t have anyone to defend Zach and may even struggle to prevent him from grabbing 15 or more rebounds and turning those into points on the offensive end. Maryland will likely go to a zone defense and look to press Purdue to prevent easy offense initiation which is where Zach can really benefit from Purdue’s guards quickly breaking the press and getting the ball to Zach in single coverage type situations. The best way to pull a team out of that type of full court pressure to force them into giving up easy buckets.
Where Zach can really make an impact though is on the offensive glass if Maryland does go to their zone defense package. It is incredibly difficult to box out from a zone, especially in the middle, and Zach should be able to patrol that area for put backs or kick outs rather easily. If that happens, getting Maryland into more man to man defense bodes well for Purdue overall.
Zach probably needs to go for 22 and 12 for Purdue to win on the road in this situation, which he is more than capable of doing.
3 | Turnovers (x12)
I don’t think there is a clearer stat for Purdue’s success this season than this one: 12 turnovers. In games where Purdue has turned the ball over 12 times or less against major opponents (B1G & Power 6), they have won every game and have won them by an average of 13 points. When Purdue turns the ball over 13 or more times, they have encountered all three of their losses and have won by only an average 7.75 points.
When on the road one of the most important things you can control is your turnovers and Purdue has to minimize those as much as possible. Purdue had only 3 in the first half against Northwestern and then had a complete meltdown in the second half. If Purdue can hit that mark of 12 turnovers or less, they stand a good chance of getting out of College Park with a W.
I have yet to predict a Purdue loss yet this season and I don’t think that is going to change here either. Purdue has rebounded nicely from losses this season following up those games with a hard fought win on the road against OSU and at home against Iowa. I expect Purdue to correct some of those issues that cost them at Northwestern and guys continue to take steps forward. It’s time for Ethan Morton, Caleb Furst, or Brandon Newman to step up and give Purdue help from an unexpected source. Purdue just needs to play their game and not get rattled.