COLLEGE PARK, Mary. (AP) – Maryland’s Kevin Willard walked away from a Thursday morning film session with little doubt his team would upend No. 3 Purdue less than 12 hours later.
Then his Terrapins went out and proved the first-year coach prophetic, unleashing a dominant stretch in the middle of the second half to rally past the Boilermakers 68-54 and deal Purdue its second consecutive loss.
Students stormed the court — and one even climbed onto a basket — after Maryland earned its fourth victory of the season over a ranked team. Exactly 10 years earlier, fans rushed onto the same court after Maryland beat then-No. 2 Duke.
“I knew we were going to win,” Willard said. “This was not a surprise to me. This is an unbelievable program. It’s one of the best programs in the country. I thought it was important for the fanbase and it was important for the students to just understand what this program is really all about.”
Jahmir Young scored 20 points for the Terps (18-8, 9-6 Big Ten), who trailed 37-29 before erupting on a 29-4 burst to take control. Hakim Hart added 13 points for Maryland, which defeated a top-three team for the first time since toppling then-No. 3 Iowa 74-68 on Jan. 28, 2016.
Maryland improved to 14-1 at home this season and continued its resurgence after going 15-17 last season, the program’s first losing season since 1992-93.
“Like coach said in the locker room, ‘Just think of where you were last year,’” said forward Julian Reese, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. “At this time last year, we had a bad record — I’m not exactly sure what it was — and (now) it’s (18-8) and we just beat a top-five team in the country. It’s definitely a confidence booster, but we have to keep working.”
Zach Edey and Braden Smith both scored 18 points for Purdue (23-4, 12-4), which has lost three of four — all on the road. The Boilermakers were outrebounded 35-23 by the smaller Terps. It was their largest deficit on the glass all season and only the third time they were beaten on the boards.
“We have to be tougher,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “You have to come in here and win the possession battle. You have to have more rebounds and fewer turnovers. Now you can start right there and work toward something. We didn’t do that. When you get on the road and you have fewer possessions and now you don’t shoot well, oh that’s going to be a long night versus a quality team.”
The Boilermakers seemed headed for a bounce-back from Sunday’s 64-58 loss at Northwestern when they took an eight-point lead in the second half. But a possession after a basket by Young, Purdue forward Mason Gillis was called for a foul and then was assessed a technical foul for arguing with official Doug Sirmons.
“It was definitely a momentum swing,” Young said. “We just tried to limit them to one shot and get out in transition. That’s when we play our best ball.”
That effectively ignited a 10-0 spurt that prompted Painter to call timeout. He tried to again stem the run when Hart hit a 3 to make it 50-41 — a 21-4 spree at that point.
Maryland kept surging after the timeout, and by the time Hart made another 3 with 7:15 remaining, the Terps were up 58-41 and Purdue faced its largest deficit of the season.
“It just seemed like they were living about eight feet from the rim right in the middle, and they were just breaking us down off the dribble,” Painter said.
The Terps eventually pushed the advantage to 18 and never saw their lead cut to single digits the rest of the night against a team that was ranked No. 1 earlier this month.
Purdue: The Boilermakers’ recent struggles have all come against good teams, but they haven’t been as sharp as they were during their 22-1 start. There’s still time to sort things out before the postseason, and Purdue should get a boost from playing three of its final four regular-season games at home.
Maryland: The Terrapins improved to 8-0 in conference home games under Willard. Maryland also avenged an earlier loss for the third time this season; the Terps also split with Michigan and Wisconsin.
Purdue fell from No. 1 to No. 3 after its loss at Northwestern on Sunday, and the Boilermakers seem likely to slip at least a few more spots next week.
Purdue plays host to Ohio State on Sunday.
Maryland visits Nebraska on Sunday.