After a shaky start filled with turnovers and missed shots against No. 12 Purdue, No. 24 Maryland shot 60 percent from the field and held the Boilermakers to 18 points in the second half to comeback and take down Purdue, 70-56, in College Park on Tuesday.
Within the first five minutes of the game, Maryland was 0-7 from the field and Carsen Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, made his first two attempts from three. That, combined with five Maryland turnovers compared to Purdue’s zero in the first eight minutes had the Terps looking like they were going to drop another game against a ranked opponent.
“I don’t know if we were a bit sluggish or if were a little bit nervous,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said, “but we weren’t very good in the first half and at halftime I just went in and tried to change their body language.”
Going into the halftime break, Purdue led 38-30 and Edwards was well on his way to his 26.4 points he has been averaging this year, with 17 points on 6-14 shooting in the half. Purdue sharpshooter Ryan Cline was also 3-3 from behind the arc in the half and it was looking like the Boilermakers were going to cruise to their ninth straight win.
Double teams on Fernando and poor shooting from freshman Jalen Smith also led to Maryland’s first half deficit. Smith started the game 0-5 from the field and ended the half 1-7 with two points.
The second half was a completely different story for Maryland; something we have seen a ton from this young team so far this year.
“It wasn’t really X’s and O’s, it was just changing our body language and believing we would win and play well,” Turgeon said.
Even though Smith struggled in the first half, he looked like a completely new player in the second. He came out hitting his shots and playing tough defense and ultimately ended with a team-high 16 points, with 14 of them coming in the second half.
“Stix was as bad as he could be and he was as good as he could be,” Turgeon said. “He still didn’t make any threes but he was terrific around the rim and defensively he was much better in the second half.”
The Terps opened up the half on an 8-2 run to tie the game up at 40-40 four minutes into the half. Back-and-forth possessions for both teams during the next five minutes would see the game tied at 48 with just under 12 minutes left in the game and the game was officially flipped upside down.
During those five minutes, Maryland found themselves down 48-42, but two straight threes from Eric Ayala tied the game back up and the Xfinity Center was rocking.
The game would then be tied at 50 less than a minute after, but a three from Aaron Wiggins gave the Terps a 53-50 leads and they would not surrender that lead for the rest of the game.
During the second half, Purdue could not seem to get anything going offensively. After shooting 40 percent from the field in the first half, the Boilermakers shot an abysmal 16 percent from the field in the second half.
“Our defense was terrific,” Turgeon said. “You can’t say enough about Morsell and Cowan on those two kids all night, just chasing them around.”
Edwards was 2-12 in the half and ended the game 8-27 from the field. He still ended with 24 points, but his 3-13 shooting from beyond the arc was a major reason that Purdue fell behind in the second half.
One reason Edwards was struggling so much in the second half was the tough defense from the duo of Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell. They were switching on screens all night and getting in the face of Edwards and Cline.
“I was locked in,” Morsell said. “I just tried to my best to make it tough for him. My teammates helped me a lot, it was a lot of team defense involved. Whenever he touches the ball it’s a good chance he will score.”
The Boilermakers only made one of 16 attempted threes in the second half, in large part due to Cowan and Morsell’s defense.
“Darryl has to understand that what he is doing for our team is just as important as Anthony scoring or Bruno scoring,” Turgeon said.
Five Terps ended in double figure scoring tonight, with Smith leading the way with 16. Ayala was close behind with 15 on 5-9 shooting, while Fernando and Cowan added 12 each. Wiggins ended with 11 points on 3-5 shooting from three.
Fernando also grabbed 12 rebounds on the night, giving him his seventh-straight and 16th double-double this season.
Maryland now travels to Ann Arbor to take on No. 6 Michigan (22-2, 11-2 Big Ten) Saturday at noon. The game can be seen on FOX.
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