Maryland men’s basketball dismantles No. 3 Purdue, 68-54, for first win over top-5 opponent since 2016

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COLLEGE PARK — Hours before the Maryland men’s basketball team pulled off its biggest win of the season in a 68-54 dismantling of No. 3 Purdue, coach Kevin Willard had a premonition.

“[Assistant coach] Grant Billmeier and I were in here earlier watching film, and I said to him, ‘I have no doubt we’re going to win this game,’” he said. “I had no doubt. These kids have worked extremely hard. When we have played bad, they’ve had a great attitude and worked hard. We had three great days of practice this week. So I knew we were going to win. This was not a surprise for me.”


The Terps made their first-year coach look like Nostradamus. Graduate student point guard Jahmir Young, senior shooting guard Hakim Hart and sophomore power forward Julian Reese combined for 43 points to power the team to its first victory against a top-five opponent since Jan. 28, 2016, when that squad, which was ranked No. 8, upended No. 3 Iowa, 74-68. Many students in the announced crowd of 17,950 at Xfinity Center stormed the court after the final buzzer sounded — 10 years to the day fans flooded the court after Maryland’s 83-81 win over No. 2 Duke.

Young appreciated Willard’s confidence in the players.


“We can’t ask for a coach that believes in us any more than he does,” he said. “He told us that we earned it. We had a couple good practices. So we feel like we should have won when we played them at their house [a 58-55 loss on Jan. 22], but we were able to get them back tonight. I feel like we match up very well with them, and we took advantage of it.”

The setback was the second in a row for the Boilermakers (23-4, 12-4 Big Ten) after Sunday’s 64-58 loss to Northwestern and third in their past four games. Their previous three losses had occurred when they were the top-ranked team in the nation according to the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

While Purdue has struggled, Maryland (18-8, 9-6) has flourished. The Terps improved to 14-1 at home and extended their program-record winning streak against Big Ten opponents at Xfinity Center to 11.

Maryland guard Jahmir Young drives for a layup past Purdue's Braden Smith during Thursday night's win at Xfinity Center in College Park.

The outcome seemed unlikely through the first four minutes of the second half when Purdue turned a 28-25 lead at halftime into a 37-29 advantage. Freshman point guard Braden Smith kick-started the 9-4 burst with five straight points, and then 7-foot-4 junior center Zach Edey scored four consecutive points.

After Young hit a jumper, a technical foul assessed to Boilermakers junior small forward Mason Gillis after he tangled with Reese for a rebound seemed to ignite Maryland, which scored eight unanswered points for a 39-37 lead. That was the Terps’ first since the score was 9-8 with 12:30 left in the first half.

Although a 3-pointer by junior shooting guard Brandon Newman restored Purdue’s lead at 40-39 with 13:23 remaining, Maryland scored six more points. And after Newman made one of two free throws at the 10:52 mark, the Terps embarked on a 13-0 run capped by five straight points from Hart for a 58-41 advantage with 7:15 left. All together, it was a 29-4 run that brought the crowd to its feet.

The Boilermakers tried to trim the deficit by scoring seven of the game’s next 10 points to make it 61-48 with 4:12 remaining, but Maryland would not be denied.

Young, who finished with a game-high 20 points and added five rebounds, four assists and two steals, said Gillis’ technical foul was a turning point.


“It was definitely a momentum swing,” he said. “Just trying to limit them to one shot and get out in transition. That’s when we play our best ball. The crowd was into it. They were bringing energy. Just believing in each other and making the right play.”

Hart scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and had four rebounds and three assists, while Reese, a Baltimore native and St. Frances graduate, racked up 10 points and nine rebounds while serving as the primary defender on Edey.

Maryland men’s basketball fans storm the court and hang from the basket after the team beat No. 3 Purdue on Thursday night at Xfinity Center in College Park.

“Showing up for my team when they really need me,” Reese said of his performance. “That’s my mentality. I feel like if I do that, we can get the job done like we did today.”

After shooting 30.8% (8-for-26) in the first half, the Terps erupted to hit 63% (17-for-27) in the second. They made four of five 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes after missing five of six in the first half.

As much as Edey altered shots in the lane with his game-high three blocks, Maryland outscored Purdue 38-30 in the paint, including 24-10 in the second half. The team also gained a decisive advantage on the boards with a 35-23 margin against a Boilermakers team that entered the game ranked first in the nation in rebounding margin at plus-11.7.

Edey, a strong candidate for Player of the Year honors, compiled 18 points and eight rebounds. Smith amassed 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.


After shooting 48.1% (13-for-27) in the first half, the Boilermakers made just 39.1% (9-for-23) of their attempts in the second. Coach Matt Painter praised the Terps’ defense for limiting his shooters, but also emphasized that his players had their chances.

“I thought they did a good job of defending us, but we still had some looks,” he said. “They could probably say the same thing on their end, but they have to go down for us. We have to have a balance of driving the basketball, making 3s, and getting post-ups for Zach. And when we don’t have that balance, they’re going to shrink the defense and do a better job.”

Maryland at Nebraska

Sunday, 5 p.m.

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