In a game with huge Big Ten title implications, the No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers defeated the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins 73-72 at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland, on Saturday.
Purdue freshman guard Carsen Edwards hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining, and a missed buzzer-beater by Maryland's Kevin Huerter gave the Boilermakers the win.
The Boilermakers kept their regular-season championship hopes alive by improving to 8-3 in conference play, while the Terps fell out of a tie for the Big Ten lead with Wisconsin by dropping to 8-2.
Despite being the home team, Maryland entered the contest as an underdog due largely to the fact it was the only major-conference team yet to play an AP Top 25 opponent, according to ESPN Stats & Info (h/t ESPN's Jeff Borzello).
Saturday's clash featured a matchup between two of the best individual players in college basketball: Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan and Maryland guard Melo Trimble.
Swanigan led all scorers with 26 points and added 10 rebounds to continue his remarkable season, per Purdue Basketball:
Although Trimble got off to a slow start, he bolstered his Naismith College Player of the Year candidacy as well with 22 points and five assists, including making 14 of his 15 free-throw attempts.
After taking a 1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the game, Maryland led until just 3:58 was left in the opening half.
The Terps accomplished that despite Trimble missing each of his first four shots, but he got on the board with around seven minutes left in the first half to stretch the lead to five:
Purdue seized its first lead of the game at 28-27 on an Isaac Haas layup, but Maryland answered right back on a Justin Jackson three-point play.
The Terrapins then went to work on rebuilding their lead with plays such as this sweet feed from Trimble to Michal Cekovsky, via Big Ten Network:
Maryland took a 36-34 lead into halftime and quickly started to pull away during the first six minutes of the second half.
Trimble once again led the way in that regard by slicing through the Purdue defense:
Maryland went on to score on five straight possessions, while the Boilermakers struggled to find any type of offensive rhythm early in the second half.
That resulted in the Terps holding their biggest advantage of the game at 52-40, punctuated by a huge dunk from Huerter:
Within four minutes of game time, though, Purdue managed to whittle the deficit down to just one point.
Nathan Baird of the Journal & Courier explained how the Boilermakers managed to turn the tables on Maryland so quickly:
The game was a seesaw affair from that point forward, with neither team managing to lead by more than five points.
Perhaps the biggest play of the contest came with less than four minutes remaining when a P.J. Thompson trifecta put Purdue on top 66-65.
Although Swanigan scored 26 points, his most important contribution may have been smartly tapping an offensive rebound out to the wide-open Thompson to set up the make:
Haas made a pair of free throws for Purdue with 38 seconds remaining to make the score 72-71 in favor of Maryland, before a defensive stop gave the Boilermakers an opportunity to win it.
Edwards showed incredible poise for a freshman by knocking down both of his free throws to seal the come-from-behind victory, but the Boilermakers defense down the stretch was the biggest difference.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Maryland closed the game on a lengthy scoring drought from the field:
All of the Terrapins' points in the final 7:37 came from the charity stripe, and they were unable to make a big shot in the game's most crucial moment.
Both teams shot below 40 percent from the floor, but Purdue hit some key shots from long range to close the gap and complete the victory.
Purdue now trails Wisconsin by just one game for the Big Ten lead, and it doesn't have a meeting with a ranked opponent until it closes out the season against No. 25 Northwestern.
The Boilermakers have already beaten the Badgers, and they are very much in business with regard to the title hunt.
Maryland squandered a significant opportunity and has a lot to prove with no AP Top 25 wins on its resume, but it trails Wisconsin by just a half game and could potentially get back in the lead when it takes on the Badgers on Feb. 19.
Following a key win to stay in the thick of the Big Ten title conversation, Purdue head coach Matt Painter discussed the importance of his team's recent run, according to Liam Beatus of CampusRush.com:
While coming out on top was vital to Purdue's regular-season championship hopes, Painter acknowledged that it won't be easy to yield similar results moving forward, per Baird: "It's competition; it's two great teams. We got one more break than they did. We'll take it and move on, and next time you probably don't get it."
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon admitted that the loss was a tough pill to swallow Saturday after leading for most of the contest, according to Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post:
The Terrapins had a chance to seal the win by stopping Purdue with 6.5 seconds remaining, and Turgeon lamented the fact that they weren't able to do so, per Pat Donohue of Rivals.com:
Maryland's offense went cold down the stretch, and Turgeon gave full marks to Purdue's defense for making that happen, according to WNST.net:
The fact that the game came down to the final possession suggests Maryland and Purdue are evenly matched, but the Boilermakers are the ones set to enter the stretch run with momentum on their side.