Purdue Extends Program Best Win Streak to 18

The Boilermakers took some punches, but stood their ground against Maryland, winning 75-67 in the prime time bout Wednesday night. Purdue relied on its defense to take a double digit lead into halftime and relied on its shooting to carry the team home for their 18th straight win. The victory also allowed Purdue to retain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, having won all eleven contests to date.

The bell rung and Purdue struck first after winning the tip as they immediately fed Isaac Haas deep in the paint for an easy bucket. The Boilers used field goals from Haas, Dakota Mathias, and Carsen Edwards as they went on to score the match’s first nine points and used stout defense to hold Maryland scoreless for over four minutes to begin the game.

In keeping with the Purdue promotions staff’s excellent record this year, Rocky Night was celebrated in Mackey arena. Fans who donated a canned food item before the game were awarded with posters containing a likeness from the Rocky film franchise; the posters featured Mathias (“Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up”) and Haas (“I must break you”) in shorts and boxing gloves around a boxing ring. During the game, Purdue Pete could be found wearing boxing gloves and donning a fighter’s walkout robe (I’m sure I’m using the wrong terminology on some of this stuff, I’m far from a boxing expert), many members of the paint crew got into the spirit as well with their themed attire, and many of the video clips shown throughout the game had a Rocky-theme to them.

Anthony Cowan was finally able to get Maryland on the board with an easy runout off of an ill-advised, quick P.J. Thompson three point attempt that Darryl Morsell rebounded and advanced up the court to assist the transition score. But even with that first strike, the Terrapins continued to struggle offensively throughout the first half which was, in large part, due to Purdue’s stingy defense.

The first half was quite possibly the best half-court defense Purdue had played all season. The Boilers forced Maryland into eleven turnovers and limited the Terrapins to seven made field goals on a meager 22 attempts. Of the shots Maryland was able to sink, about half of them came in transition off of Purdue misses, that’s how good the Purdue defense was in the first round – it wasn’t so much that Maryland was missing shots, but rather that Purdue just wasn’t allowing Maryland to take a shot.

Even with Purdue’s stout defense, the Boilers were only able to carry an eleven point lead into the second round. For whatever reason, the Boilers were often seen playing selfish basketball by taking quick, ill-advised shots and not moving the ball around to look for the open man. Purdue only connected on twelve field goals (34 attempts), six were assisted, including going four-of-14 from distance. Even though the statistics will show Purdue committed just a single turnover in the first half, the reality is the quick shots, atypical for this Purdue offense, resulted in some easy transition points for Maryland and kept the game within reach as Purdue carried a 35-24 lead into the break.

The second half began a bit rougher for the Ivan Drago of basketball centers, Haas, as he took a couple of quick jabs; racking up a pair of fouls in the first minute of action. On their first possession, Purdue attempted to go up-tempo and force the action down to Haas in motion. Haas was called for the charge when he attempted to go up for the score as he enveloped and demolished the stationary defender just outside of the restricted area. A couple of players later, Bruno Fernando went up for a layup and Haas got a piece of the Terrapin for his second foul; Fernando completed the three point play and narrowed the lead to six. Purdue took those early blows and immediately responded with a Haas layup and C. Edwards triple to extend the lead back to eleven.

As punches from both squads continued to rain down and shots began to fall at a much more rapid pace, the match fluctuated back and forth between a six and eleven point Purdue lead for the next eight minutes of action when Haas connected on a layup and the Boilers clung to a nine point lead. With ten minutes remaining, after having fought with their off hand all night, Maryland Head Coach, Mark Turgeon did his best Burgess Meredith impression and gave the signal to start swinging with their dominant arm (there really wasn’t a signal and Maryland didn’t really switch which hand they were shooting with, but the flip of the switch felt like the right Rocky reference to interject at this point in the game); Kevin Huerter apparently was the Maryland South Paw Wednesday night. Huerter buried a pair of threes in quick succession to erase Purdue’s lead to three, 55-52, with just over nine minutes remaining. With Purdue squarely against the ropes, Maryland had forced Head Coach Matt Painter to call a timeout.

“There (are) always going to be tough spots in every game,… but that’s good for us, that shapes us as a group. Those tough moments, we learn from that.” – Purdue Freshman, Matt Haarms

Coming out of their corners, how would Purdue respond to such a fury of points? Like any good, mature, team, the Boilers kept their heads up and responded in kind by throwing their own punches straight to the gut. Purdue attempted to go back to Mr. Reliable (Haas) and he was fouled by Joshua Tomiac (Tomiac had recently entered the game for Sean Obi who had fouled out of the contest with over ten minutes remaining). Haas connected on both free throws, Thompson nailed a three, and Haas threw down a thunderous dunk as Purdue rattled off seven unanswered points and extended the lead back to double digits, 62-52, with seven and a half minutes to go.

P.J. Thompson shoots a free throw to help ice the game late against Maryland. - photo by Keith Carrell

P.J. Thompson shoots a free throw to help ice the game late against Maryland. – photo by Keith Carrell

Working against the Terrapins at this point was the foul situation (Purdue had been in the bonus since the nine minute mark) and Purdue’s ability to consistently knock down free throws at a high clip. For the remainder of the game, Maryland kept attempting to connect on punches, but was only able to reduce the lead to as few as six (and as many as twelve), before the final tally resulted in Purdue as an eight point victor. Over those final seven minutes, Purdue connected on seven free throws to go along with three shots in the paint from Haas and Vincent Edwards to ice the game away.

V. Edwards was absent from the pre-game shoot around, but had been listed as a normal starter. The Senior forward was feeling ill before the game, so he didn’t participate in warmups, but still led his team onto the court just before the anthem and player introductions. The illness visibly affected his shot in the first half, but Edwards didn’t allow it to affect his overall game. He finished by nearly completing a double-double, contributing eight points (now just three shy of the 1,500 career mark), eleven boards, and five assists in 35 minutes. After the game, Painter praised his wing, “I thought it was a great game for him,… to be able to go out there and not turn the basketball over, get five assists, and eleven rebounds is huge.”

Haarms continues to show off how athletic a 7’3” giant can be. With 13 and a half minutes remaining in the contest, Haarms was found with the ball at the top of the key and the Boiler offense spread around the arc. The seas (in the form of two Terrapin defenders) parted, Haarms lowered his shoulder and drove toward the lane where he soared over a third defender darting across the paint and dunked the ball with Dutch authority.

Next up:
Away: Rutgers on Saturday, 2/3 (4 pm, BTN)
Home: #17 Ohio State on Wednesday, 2/7 (8:30 pm, BTN)

Quick Hits:
The win extended the already-program best winning streak to 18 straight… Purdue remained steady at third in the polls behind Villanova and Virginia (both of which continue to win as well)… Highly decorated Purdue track star, Chloe Abbott sang the National Anthem prior to the game and she had some pipes on her as many fans commented on how well she sang… Longtime radio play by play announced, Larry “Cliz” Clisby was honored during a break in action as he was recently announced to be inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame… When Obi fouled out, Eastern went to the line for two free throw attempts and missed both, but got a third opportunity due to a lane violation; Eastern missed the extra attempt as well – he’s vastly improving his game all around, but his free throw shooting still leaves a lot to be desired… Purdue only committed four turnovers (tied for 5th fewest in school history) in the entire contest; of those four, three were due to offensive fouls… After a poor shooting half to start the game, both teams were over 50% in the second half (Purdue went 14-24, Maryland 17-31… Haarms continues to clog shots and added another block to his season total, currently at 63 and third all time for a Purdue freshman (Joe Barry Carroll 82, A.J. Hammons 67)… Purdue announced that the Maryland game and ensuing three home games are sold out which will set a new average attendance record for Mackey Arena this season… Maryland was shorthanded for the game with Justin Jackson, Ivan Bender, and Michal Cekovsky all missing the contest… V. Edwards surpassed 700 career rebounds (the 13th Boiler to reach that mark)… Mathias surpassed Robbie Hummel for fourth on the all-time career three pointers made list, connecting on three against Maryland to raise his total to 217; Mathias is ten points shy of the thousand career points club… Maryland got a lot out of their starters, which accounted for 60 of their 67 points and each played at least 24 minutes: Fernando (20 points, ten rebounds), Huerter (16 points, five boards, three assists), Morsell (13 points, nine rebounds), and Cowan (eleven points, eight assists)… Obi needed only eight minutes of action to foul out and chipped in two rebounds and two turnovers before exiting… Haas joined V. Edwards in the nearly double-double club leading all scorers with 20 points and added nine rebounds, an assist, and a block… Purdue never trailed in the contest.

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