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No. 11 Terps get past first Big Ten loss, early foul trouble in 69-60 win at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. — Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon knew this was going to be a grind-it-out game for his No. 11 Terps, maybe their first true Big Ten Conference foul-fest against a Purdue team that rarely wins with style. He also knew he needed a better performance from senior guard Dez Wells.

Despite early foul trouble Saturday for Maryland's big men and, later, for Wells, the Terps survived at Mackey Arena, 69-60, with a combination of clutch free-throw shooting, defensive grit and a late lift from their struggling star.

Junior forward Jake Layman led Maryland (15-2, 3-1) with 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Wells, who missed a dunk early in the game, when he seemed to be in the same funk that cost the Terps at Illinois on Wednesday, finished with 11 of his 13 points in the second half.

Unlike in Wednesday's defeat, the Terps didn't allow the loss of an early lead affect them after the game was tied at halftime. After building its lead back to nine points with just four minutes left, Maryland never wavered.

"When we went in the locker room [after the game], I said, 'I'm going to count everybody who helped us win today,' " Turgeon said. "We had 14 guys in uniform, and I got all the way to 14. I thought our bench was terrific. I thought everybody who played was terrific. I thought we were more invested today than we were the other night. It was good to see, and it was good to play a really good second half."

The victory helped Maryland erase the memory of its second-half collapse against the Fighting Illini and allowed the Terps to return from their five-day trip to the frigid Midwest with their collective confidence revived. Having played three of its first four Big Ten games on the road, Maryland has three of the next four at Xfinity Center.

"In the second half of the Illinois game, we just let down, and we lost confidence and we lost belief in our offense," freshman point guard Melo Trimble said. "To bounce back like this, and to run our offense, it gave us our confidence, and we're all smiles now."

As it did in opening Big Ten play with a win at Michigan State, Maryland won despite poor shooting: 18 of 48 from the field overall, including six of 20 3-pointers. In a game with 47 total personal fouls, plus a technical foul on both coaches, the Terps won by making 27 of 31 free throws.

The Terps also held Purdue (10-7, 2-2) to 21-for-57 shooting and forced 16 turnovers, their most since causing 18 against Virginia Military Institute on Nov. 30. Though he finished with just 11 points, Trimble was particularly disruptive against Purdue's offense.

"I felt like I just needed to put all my energy on defense, because defense wins games," said Trimble, who shot 1-for-7 from the field but made all eight of his free throws. "I saw Richaud [Pack] scoring [11 points off the bench], Dez scoring, Jake [scoring]. I thought defense was going to be my No. 1 option."

It was the technical foul on Turgeon late in the first half, his second in four Big Ten games, that seemed to fire up his players and help his team's worsening foul situation.

Maryland had to play all but two minutes Saturday without starting center Damonte Dodd, who picked up his first two fouls 13 seconds apart in the opening minute trying to front 7-foot-2, 297-pound freshman center Isaac Haas.

Though Turgeon's technical foul was part of what turned out to be a five-point play for the Boilermakers, helping them take their first lead of the game, it had the same effect of his technical foul in the first overtime of the two-overtime win at Michigan State.

"I don't know what the call was. I was just frustrated; I get that way," Turgeon said. "I felt like I needed to do it. I talked about it to the referee during the game. We responded. We got a little more physical because I thought they got pushed around pretty good. They still beat us on the boards, but we were much better in the second half."

Said Layman: "It got us fired up. We just responded after that happened. … He was pretty upset over there. I kind of kept my distance because I thought I was going to get yelled at, too."

Eventually, Haas and 7-foot, 261-pound junior A.J. Hammons got into foul trouble as well, and the Boilermakers were reduced to living — and eventually losing — on 3-pointers. Helped inside by substitutes Michal Cekovsky and Jon Graham (Calvert Hall), the Terps did a better job on the boards.

Given Purdue's physicality, and Maryland's lack thereof in its previous game, Saturday seemed like an even bigger measuring stick for the Terps in their new league. The Boilermakers had won their first two conference games before losing a close game at No. 4 Wisconsin on Wednesday.

What happened at Illinois was forgotten.

"All we hear is how physical the Big Ten is, and I thought we did a great job of answering that in this game," Layman said.

Said Turgeon: "Coming off a loss and being on the road, this is something we had to have. … It's a great way to end a road trip."

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