Purdue's no-good, very-bad start to February got even worse Thursday as the third-ranked Boilermakers suffered their third loss in their last four games in a 68-54 beatdown at the hands of unranked Maryland in College Park, Maryland. Purdue (23-4, 12-4 Big Ten) led for a majority of the game before a total collapse late in which it surrendered a 29-4 run over a nine-minute span in the second half to fall completely out of the game, losing for the second straight time.
Maryland (18-8, 9-6) shot 17 of 27 from the field in the second half and made four of its five 3-point attempts in an offensive barrage in which it outscored Purdue 43-26 in the final 20 minutes of play, helping it capture its first win over a top-five ranked team since Jan. 28, 2016. Jahmir Young had 11 of his 20 points in the second half and Hakim Hart had 10 of his 13 points in that span.
Purdue star Zach Edey managed 18 points and eight rebounds and freshman guard Braden Smith added 18 points of his own. However, the two only managed 18 second-half points and the supporting cast contributed eight more in the totality of the second half as it again failed to score 30 points after the first half for a second consecutive game (after failing to do so only twice all season prior to that).
The Boilermakers opened the season 22-1 and climbed to No. 1 in the AP poll led by Edey, the frontrunner for national player of the year, but have stumbled in February with a 2-3 record culminating with consecutive losses to Northwestern and Maryland, respectively. Their loss to Maryland is its biggest by margin all season, potentially putting in jeopardy its chances to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Here are three takeaways from Maryland's victory vs. Purdue.
No. 1 overall seed up for grabs
Purdue will fall from the No. 1 overall seed, but will remain on the top line, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. The Boilermakers' nine Quad 1 wins and overall resume remains among the best in college basketball, but their margin for error as the projected No. 1 overall seed has likely run out. Purdue has remained the No. 1 overall seed in Palm's bracket even amidst its slip the last month, but another loss might open the door for another team to move to the top line. Kansas began the day as the overall No. 2 seed and has three more Quad 1 wins than does Purdue and may be on its way to winning the Big 12 -- the toughest conference in college hoops this season -- which would bolster its credentials to potentially unseat Purdue as the No. 1 overall seed. It seems it'd take something substantial for Purdue to fall to the No. 2 or 3 line by the NCAA Tournament, but with a strong list of No. 1 seed resumes, it adds some late-season drama with Selection Sunday just three weeks out.
Second-half struggles doom Boilermakers
For a second consecutive game, Purdue struggled in the second half. Uncoincidentally, it resulted in yet another loss. The second-half struggles started against Northwestern on Sunday as it was outscored 21-9 over the final 10 minutes and continued Thursday in getting outscored 21-13 in the final 10 minutes. That marked the third consecutive game it has been outscored in the second half and seventh time (in 10 games) over the last month.
Terrapins contain Edey
The depth of the Purdue has been perhaps underrated in Edey's POY-caliber year, but the blueprint to stopping this team is no doubt done by directly through slowing the 7-foot-4 superhuman. Maryland -- spearheaded by Julian Reese -- did about as good a job as you can in doing that. By playing physical and forcing him to pass out of the block you dare Purdue's role players to beat you. On Thursday, Purdue could not do that.