No. 20 Purdue hangs on to beat No. 10 Maryland

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
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Having lost to No. 10 Maryland earlier this month, No. 20 Purdue was looking for some payback Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette. And thanks to their bench and superior effort on the glass, Matt Painter’s Boilermakers accomplished that task. Purdue hung on despite struggling mightily against Maryland’s full court pressure in the second half, winning 83-79 thanks in large part to the work they were able to do during the game’s first 35 minutes.

Purdue dominated in the rebounding department, grabbing 59.4 percent of its available missed shots and converting those 19 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points. And it was a group effort on the boards, with seven Boilermakers grabbing at least two offensive rebounds (Johnny Hill led the way with four).

Maryland’s been good defensively when it comes to shooting percentages, as they entered Saturday second in the Big Ten in both overall and three-point field goal percentage defense (conference games only). But where they’ve struggled is completing defensive possessions with a rebound, as they entered the game ranked ninth in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (70.6). Maryland was even worse than that against Purdue, and that resulted in a deficit that proved to be too much to recover from.

As balanced as Purdue was on the boards, they were just as good in the scoring department. Five players, led by A.J. Hammons’ 19 points, finished in double figures with Dakota Mathias adding 17 points off the bench. Purdue’s reserves outscored Maryland’s 30-10, with 18 of those points coming in the first half. The Boilermakers got out of the gates quickly thanks to their starters, but it was the bench that helped them maintain a working margin for most of the day.

Purdue has some work to do when it comes to dealing with pressure, as was the case Saturday. Maryland used Jake Layman at the head of their press as they looked to change momentum, and Purdue’s guards reacted as if they hadn’t seen a press at all this season. That, even with the improved play of P.J. Thompson, was the question many asked regarding Purdue’s chances in March.

Will they have enough on the perimeter to supplement the efforts of Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas in the post? Purdue’s 15 turnovers were converted into 22 points by the Terrapins, who nearly stole the game as a result. The Boilermakers have turned the ball over on more than 17 percent of their possessions in Big Ten play, and it’s something they’ll have to address heading into the NCAA tournament.

But the Boilermakers also got a lot going for themselves, including their size, depth and the ability to earn extra possessions through offensive rebounds. Purdue took advantage of those attributes against Maryland, picking up a quality win as a result.