WEST LAFAYETTE – Brandon Newman scored 17 points and Eric Hunter Jr. added 16 to help Purdue stave off a furious Maryland comeback and win 73-70 at Mackey Arena this afternoon.
- Purdue can survive with Trevion Williams out: Williams has been Purdue's best player over the last two weeks, but he picked up two fouls this afternoon in the first 5:15 of the game and did not return to the court for the rest of the first half. Having to get by with a foul-prone Zach Edey doing everything he could to avoid excess contact in the post and some super-small lineups with Aaron Wheeler at the 5 could have posed a problem for the Boilermakers, but they instead not only weathered the storm but built a lead that reached as many as 15 points. Edey played some very good minutes and avoided fouling (he had one in his first minute on the court and none thereafter until the second half). The Boiler guards were responsible for more than enough production to push their team in front, with Sasha Stefanovic, Eric Hunter Jr. and Brandon Newman each drilling 3-pointers to keep Maryland at bay. There are still questions about the overall defensive capabilities of Purdue's small-ball lineups without Williams or Edey, but seeing the Boilermakers play well without Williams on the court for long stretches is an encouraging sign.
- Purdue took care of the ball ... for a while: The focus of Purdue's game-planning since it lost to Iowa was in cutting down turnovers. The Boilermakers felt like they were sloppy against the Hawkeyes (they turned it over 14 times) and spoke about simple passes and good decisions as the main ingredient for victory today. Maryland is not a team that turns its opponent over often (the Terps came in forcing just 11.6 turnovers per game, 317th nationally), but the Boilermakers committed only 10 turnovers including just three in the first half. There was a stretch early in the second half when Purdue committed six turnovers in a 5:30 span and Maryland shrunk a 13-point deficit down to as few as one with points off those giveaways. There's still plenty of room for the Boilermakers to improve in the ball-handling department and they need to keep one or two turnovers in a short span from spiraling and making them lose their poise.
- Jaden Ivey is not scared: When Maryland cut the Purdue lead to only one at 46-45, it was Purdue's freshman guard that bailed the Boilermakers out. First, he created his own offense, nailing a stepback 3 from the top of the key and adding a corner 3 a minute later. Then, he got involved as a passer, dishing a beautiful pocket pass to Trevion Williams for a layup and finding Newman for a pair of open 3-pointers, one of which went down. Within four minutes, the Boilermaker lead had climbed back to nine and they had some breathing room again. Ivey was terrific all afternoon, putting together an all-around performance that also included a nifty finish at the rim through a foul in the first half and some important ball-handling against Maryland's press when Hunter was off the floor. The Mishawaka native is an important part of this team and will become more so as he gains experience. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Player of the Game: Brandon Newman
Newman was a shot-maker all afternoon. Almost none of his points came easily: nearly al of them were on tough, contested jumpers or shots that he created for himself off the dribble. He finished with his highest point total since Dec. 1 and showed once again the talent that made him one of the top recruits in the state of Indiana in 2019. He went 7 of 11 from the field (3 for 6 from 3-point range) and added two rebounds, an assist and a steal without a turnover.
Facts and Figures
This is the first time in program history Purdue has played on Christmas. The only day in the college basketball calendar the Boilermakers have not played is Christmas Eve. ... Purdue is 5-0 at Mackey Arena this season. ... Despite foul trouble, Williams finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. ... Purdue was 10 for 22 from 3-point range. Maryland 10 for 28. ... The Boilermakers were 11 for 17 from the foul line. Maryland was 10 of 21. ... Sasha Stefanovic came in as one of only two players in the country with 25 3-pointers and 25 assists this season (Marreon Jackson from Toledo is the other). Stefanovic went 1 for 1 from long range and dished three assists. ... Donta Scott led Maryland with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Purdue is back in action Tuesday with a matchup at No. 11 Rutgers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) in the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. The Scarlet Knights are occupying their highest ranking since 1976, but lost their first game this season Wednesday against No. 23 Ohio State, 80-68. They'll be coming off five days off when they face the Boilermakers.