Purdue is quickly proving its two-game slide at the start of the Battle 4 Atlantis last weekend was little more than a hiccup, while Maryland’s young roster is still trying to learn how to win close games. Coming off a pair of victories against powerhouse programs, the Boilermakers attempt to carry over their recent success into Friday’s road matchup against the Terrapins in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
After routing each of its first four opponents by an average of 39.3 points, Purdue dropped an overtime thriller to Tennessee and was upset by Western Kentucky 77-73 in its first two games in the Bahamas before rebounding with a 25-point win over then-No. 4 Arizona in its final game of the tournament. The Boilermakers returned to action and knocked off their second straight ranked opponent Tuesday, surviving a 33.3-percent shooting effort at home to defeat No. 17 Louisville 66-57. The Terrapins have dropped two of three since winning five in a row to begin the season, and turnovers have been a recurring theme in both setbacks - a two-point neutral-site loss to St. Bonaventure last week and a 72-70 defeat at Syracuse on Monday. “We had the lead, we missed some free throws late, had a couple of turnovers late. … I thought our guys battled, but right now we’re just not making enough plays at the end,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT PURDUE (6-2): Despite logging only 21 minutes due to early foul trouble, Isaac Haas drew five fouls over a two-plus minute stretch after halftime to spark a 16-3 run, although coach Matt Painter told reporters Monday his 7-2 center suffered an elbow injury that prevented him from being able to make a fist after the game. Purdue opened the Louisville game misfiring on 15 of its first 16 3-point attempts and finished 5-of-23 beyond the arc, although sharpshooter Dakota Mathias (3-of-8) proved to be one of the few Boilermakers immune to perimeter woes. Matt Haarms (three blocks per game) swatted four more shots Tuesday and moved into a first-place tie in school history for the most such games (four) by a Purdue freshman.
ABOUT MARYLAND (6-2): Sophomore guard Kevin Huerter (12.3 points) played inspired ball in the return to his home state Monday, tallying 23 points on 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-9 beyond the arc - tying a career high for made 3-pointers. Struggling sophomore Justin Jackson (9.1 points, 8.8 rebounds) committed four turnovers for the fourth straight game to increase his Big Ten-leading total to 24, contributing to the Terrapins’ issues with turnovers in their two losses (20 versus St. Bonaventure, 18 against Syracuse). Freshman center Bruno Fernando is tied for third in the conference in field-goal percentage (66.0) and ranks fourth in blocks (2.4), turning away exactly three shots in each game over his last five outings.
1. Haarms’ 25 blocks through eight games is already the eighth-highest total by a freshman in school history.
2. The Terrapins recorded assists on 22 of 23 made baskets Monday.
3. The Boilermakers have shot 40.7 percent from the field or worse in three of their last four games after converting at a collective rate of 56.8 percent over their first four contests.
PREDICTION: Purdue 75, Maryland 65