Fri, 14 Dec 2018
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Lansing

Purdue looks to take down No. 23 Maryland

Sports Xchange
06 Dec 2018, 14:30 GMT+10

WEST LAFAYATTE, Ind. -- After falling out of the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 27, 2017, Purdue returns home to face No. 23 Maryland on Thursday hoping to avoid its third straight loss.

Purdue appeared in the previous 19 polls, the seventh longest streak in the country, but suffered back-to-back losses to No. 15 Florida State and No. 7 Michigan to fall out of the rankings.

The Boilermakers fell 73-72 to the Seminoles last Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, surrendering an eight-point lead with 3:41 remaining before suffering a 19-point blowout to the Wolverines at Michigan on Saturday in their conference opener.

Maryland had its six-game win streak snapped in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, losing 76-71 to No. 4 Virginia last Wednesday, but bounced back by defeating Penn State 66-59 in its conference opener on Saturday.

The Terrapins are shooting 60.1 percent from inside the 3-point line, which ranks seventh nationally, but have struggled with turnovers, averaging 17 in their last four outings. Maryland has also struggled from distance, shooting just 31.9 percent from 3-point range in its first eight games.

"It's a huge concern," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the turnovers. "We can't have 17 or 18 turnovers and expect to win. We continue to talk about it and we continue to work on things ... It's a major concern, but it's early. We have a young team, and I'd like to think we're going to get better with that as the season goes on."

Despite the play of Big Ten Preseason Player of the year Carsen Edwards, who is averaging 24.4 points and four assists per game, Purdue has dropped three of its last four and is now 0-3 against ranked opponents this season.

Given Edwards' hot start to the season -- he became the first Purdue player in 52 years to score at least 23 points in each of his first five games -- he has been the focal point of opponents' defensive game plans, often double-teamed in the half-court and pressed in the full court.

Purdue coach Matt Painter addressed Edwards' play under heavy defensive pressure after Saturday's loss to Michigan in which he committed five turnovers and made a season-low one 3-pointer.

"We need him to reverse the ball," Painter said. "We need him to get the ball to the other side. When people take things away, you have to probe the defense more, and that's something we've emphasized with him. ...

"At times, when it doesn't go his way, he gets too aggressive, and then he makes it worse. He needs to make better decisions. He needs to take better shots and make better decisions."

When Edwards has been able to find an open man, it has often been senior Ryan Cline, who leads Purdue in made 3-pointers with 31 and is shooting a team-best 45.6 percent from distance while averaging 15.3 points per game.

Edwards and Cline average a combined 39.6 points per game, making them the third-highest scoring duo in college basketball behind Duke's RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson (43.9), and Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura and Zach Norvell Jr. (40.5).

Thursday's game will showcase two different offenses.

Purdue has been a very perimeter-oriented team, with nearly half of its shots from the field coming from 3-point range. The Boilermakers have made a school record 93 3-pointers in their first eight games, the most among Power Five teams.

Though Maryland has struggled from 3-point range, the frontcourt has been its strength, headlined by forwards Bruno Fernando, who averages 15.4 points and 10 rebounds per game as well as 2.3 blocks per game, and 6-foot-10 freshman Jalen Smith, who averages 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Purdue has won four straight against Maryland, leading the series 4-2. Since 2014, the Boilermakers own a Big Ten-best 32-4 home record in the conference play.

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