The Purdue Boilermakers will travel out to face the Maryland Terrapins in their quest to win their first true road game of the season. In a return to a place that saw Purdue lose 58-64 last season, the Boilers will look to move to 2-1 in the B1G and begin to take control of the conference race early. The Boilers continue to be the #1 ranked team in the country for the fourth week this season and have now been ranked as the top team in the country in four consecutive calendar years (2021, 2022, 2023, 2024). That is the first time that has ever happened in conference history.
Maryland enters the game against Purdue with a record of 9-4 with their best victory being a 69-60 road win against UCLA (Kenpom 85th). The Terps sit even in the B1G with a victory over Penn State in overtime and a loss to Indiana. Maryland is currently not ranked and sit at 85th in Kenpom, placing them 10th in the B1G.
Let’s get into it with ‘The Three Pointer!’
1 | Limit the Turnovers
One state has become abundantly clear when Purdue has struggled, especially on the road in the B1G: turnovers. It would be unwise to say that Purdue loses in the same manner over and over again, at least according to Matt Painter, who stated that fact in a post game presser earlier in the season. That is largely due to the fact that turnovers in basketball, like in football, are one of the strongest metrics that determine if a team wins or loses. That factor is amplified even more when a team travels on the road in a conference such as the B1G. It would be, however, silly not to see the consistency in those turnover issues leading to those struggles.
In Purdue’s six losses last season, four of them came in true road games (Maryland, Indiana, Northwestern, Rutgers) and in only one of those games did Purdue not turn the ball over in double digits (Maryland-7 turnovers). When combining those games together, Purdue turned the ball over a total of 76 times to the opponent’s 48, which means Purdue was being turned over an average of 12.7 times versus the opponent turning it over just 8 times.
Purdue is an older and more experienced team and they have the capabilities to get through games with under 10 turnovers. That’s what Matt Painter has largely said his goal for all of his teams are from a game to game basis. The question is then do the guys that have the ball in their hands the most calm those turnover issues and not allow opponents to get extra possessions and easy points in transition and on the fast break.
Matt Painter recently said that Braden Smith has the capability to play games and control them in every aspects without turning the ball over, comparing him to Indiana Pacers phenom Tyrese Haliburton. Smith’s growth from his freshman year has been remarkable and he is firmly in the discussion as one of the best point guards in the country. It’s now time to show he, and the rest of the team, can control the game on the road.
@BoilerBall Head Coach @CoachPainter with high praise for @3bradensmith and his ability to be a lead guard and not turn the ball over in bunches. A key part of the Boilers success this season will be the Boilers limiting turnovers, especially those that happen in bunches. pic.twitter.com/SXMfVDIwxY— Jed Wilkinson (@PurdueWilkie) January 2, 2024
2 | Get the Power Forwards More Involved Offensively
Obviously the big three of Edey, Smith, and Loyer are going to be at the top of every scouting report for every team Purdue is going to face. Those three could arguably be All B1G players at the completion of the season and they total 54% of the total scoring for this season but having a set of power forwards who pull another big body outside of the paint because they have to respect the shooting ability from that position expands Purdue offensively more than any other aspect.
The duo of Mason Gilis and Trey Kaufman-Renn have shot incredibly well so far this season from behind the arc totaling 19-39 for a near 50%. TKR’s only taken 12 but Gillis is shooting a team beast 51.9% (14-27) on the season and marks the best percentages for both of those players in their careers. Even with these improved numbers, these players are rarely going to be the focus of the offense with those other players being so dominant offensively and Lance Jones being a proven scoring threat as a graduate transfer. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be though.
Mason and TKR aren’t going to be primary scorers this season but providing a consistent scoring threat from outside and hitting three to four a game from behind the arc prevents double and triple teams from occurring as quickly against Edey and opens up the lane for drives from Smith, Loyer, Jones, and Morton.
3 | Force Maryland to Use Their Bench
According to Kenpom, Maryland uses their bench just 28.9% of their minutes which is good for 249th in the country and is the second lowest rate in the B1G behind only Northwestern. Maryland relies heavily on their first seven players but the minutes drop off immensely after that to just above 10 minutes per game for true freshman Jahnathan Lamothe. Forcing an opponent into playing ways they are not adjusted for goes a long way in winning games at this level, especially on the road. To do that, Purdue needs to get Maryland into foul trouble and take advantage of those free throw attempts that they generate. If Purdue can force Maryland into 17 fouls and generate more than 12 points from the free throw line, that helps Purdue immensely.
4 | Limit Jahmir Young’s Effectiveness and Efficiency
Jahmir Young is in his fifth season and his second at Maryland after a really good career at Charlotte. Young has been a really talented scorer every season he has played but this season Young has upped his assist numbers by over 1 more per game along with improving his three point shooting percentage to 35.2% from 31.1% last season. Young is a player who can be incredibly streaky and when he gets hot, like he did in the first half against UCLA, he can have a big night where he scores 37 (23 in the first half).
Young is another one of those guards like Boo Buie and Caleb Love where you likely aren’t going to stop them from scoring where their team needs them to be. The only way that happens is if they have a poor shooting night, but what you can do is make them inefficient and limit their effectiveness in getting their teammates heavily involved. It’s one thing to let Jahmir Young have a good night but limiting his ability to impact his teammates by helping them get going needs to be limited.
Players to Watch:
Jahmir Young | #1 | 5th | 6’2 185 | 19.3 pts, 4.3 rb, 4.1 ast, 1.5 stl, 35.2% 3pt
An All American candidate, Young is clearly the Terps’ best scorer and overall player. Young is playing at an elevated level this year and seems more comfortable on a night to night basis but he will need to carry Maryland like he did against UCLA where he went for 37 if they have a chance against the Boilers.
Julian Reese | #10 | JR | 6’9 230 | 14.3 pts, 9.7 reb, 1 stl, 2.2 blk, 0% 3pt, 58.7% ft
Reese is a really good player inside for the Terps but at just 6’9 and 230 he will find trying to defend Edey inside incredibly difficult. They’ll look to protect him by doubling and tripling Edey to try and force others to beat them. Reese isn’t a threat behind the arc as he has yet to even attempt a three yet this season and that will allow Edey to play more in drop coverage in ball screen action. Reese is really good around the rim and is a very good rebounder where he grabs 3.3 offensive rebounds per game.
This is a game where Purdue is likely more talented at every position and yes that means I’m placing Braden Smith ahead of Jahmir Young. Going on the road in the B1G is never easy and although Maryland has struggled at times this year with big losses to Indiana (12) and Villanova (17), they can still give Purdue difficulties if the Boilers aren’t prepared to play. Luckily Purdue got a chance to play a game where some of those post Christmas break moment may have gotten worked out and it wasn’t against an abjectly awful program (say Copping St. like Maryland).
No game is a gimme on the schedule and road games in the B1G are especially difficult when you have that #1 next to your name. That being said, Purdue holds the advantage inside and Edey will return to his double-double ways in a victory for the Boilers.