The Maryland men’s basketball team lost a tightly contested battle at Purdue on Thursday night. Here are my thoughts from a disappointing lost
Maryland’s offense disappeared down the stretch
The Terps got out to a four point halftime lead, largely due to hitting four of their first five attempts from deep. However, in the second half Maryland’s offense was non-existent, scoring just 11 points in the last 10 minutes of action. The team finished with 60 points, which is a season low.
A lot of that is going to be put on Anthony Cowan’s shoulders. The junior guard shot just 4-of-17 from the field and 2-of-10 from three. Cowan does need to be better (credit to Purdue’s 6’6” defensive stopper Nojel Eastern who did a great job defensively), but there are tons of other factors. The offense had no rhythm or flow in the second half, and as a result, Cowan was forced to chuck many contested jumpers late in the shot clock. Maryland had a hard time getting it into the post and even when it did, there was not much success. Bruno Fernando was held to single digit points for the first time this season.
Going forward, Maryland needs to continue to get out in transition, but also figure out the half court offense or that could be an achilles heel as conference play comes around.
Coming into tonight’s contest, Maryland turned the ball over at the second highest rate in the Big 10 (14.1 per game). The turnover issue did not go away Thursday night, as the Terps coughed the ball up 17 times. Fernando had more turnovers (4) then field goals (3). Cowan and freshmen Eric Ayala had three as well.
Turnovers are a part of the game, but some of Maryland’s are mind-bogglingly bad. There were multiple occasions tonight where Terrapin players threw the ball directly to the Boilermakers. There are only so many things a team can’t control in a basketball game, but turnovers are one of them.
Strong defensive showing
While Maryland’s offense was abysmal, the team actually did a solid job on the other end. Purdue was coming into the game averaging 80 points, and Maryland held them to 62. Perimeter defense by Cowan forced Boilermaker sharpshooter Ryan Cline to go 0-6 from three and Darryl Morsell forced Carsen Edwards into some tough shots as well.
Schematically the Terps did a great job showing on ball screens and forcing Edwards to get rid of the ball. Being aggressive in the passing lanes, they forced 16 turnovers themselves. There is potential for the Terps to be a better defensive team. Cowan and Morsell are great on ball defenders, while Fernando and Jalen Smith have blocked shots and dominated the glass all year. Defensive effort like this is going to be needed for the rest of Big 10 play.
Bench still a work in progress
A trend all year for the Terps has been a lack of production outside of the top six players, and Thursday night was no different. Freshmen forward Ricky Lindo made a three pointer early on, but only saw two minutes of action. Freshmen Serryl Smith played 10 minutes and was 0-2 with two turnovers. Joshua Tomaic also saw minutes at forward, but he turned the ball over almost immediately.
I’m not blaming Turgeon for playing Cowan, Fernando, Morsell and Aaron Wiggins 30-plusminutes when nobody else has stepped up so far. Most tournament teams have seven to eight guys they can rely on and right now Maryland is a player or two short.
Purdue is good, not great
Anyone who watched Thursday night’s contest knows that it was a very winnable game for Maryland. It was also a very sloppy game featuring plenty of turnovers and bad shots. Purdue came into the season with a lot of hype and that was largely due to Carsen Edwards. Edwards hit some ridiculously tough shots and was money at the charity stripe. He may just be the best guard in college basketball (no, Zion Williamson is not a guard).
That being said, the rest of the Boilermaker roster is not super talented. Ryan Cline is a great shooter, but he can easily be run off the three point line. Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern are great defenders, but are not quite reliable on offense at this stage. For Purdue to be a true threat to win the conference, someone besides Edwards will have to show up on a night to night basis.
- Bruno Fernando made his first three pointer of the season. It remains a mystery why he doesn’t shoot more
- Maryland attempted 27 threes, the team’s second most attempts in a game this season.
- Maryland was 8-28 (28%) from the field in the second half. Yuck.
- Coming into tonight, Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler was averaging 3.4 points per game and his career high was eight.
- Aaron Wheeler scored a career high 15 points on six of seven shooting from the field.
- Maryland has won the rebounding battle in every game this season.