Edwards, Cowan headline No. 12 Purdue vs. No. 24 Maryland
Two of the Big Ten's top guards will be on display Tuesday night when Purdue's Carsen Edwards and Maryland's Anthony Cowan square off in College Park, Md.
And their teams, 12th-ranked Purdue and No. 24 Maryland, aren't bad either.
Both teams are the hunt for a top four conference finish and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
A lot of Tuesday's tilt could come down to those two guards -- Edwards, a 6-foot-1 junior who leads the Big Ten with 24.6 points per game, and Cowan, a 6-foot junior who paces Maryland with 16.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.
"I thought we did a phenomenal job on him and he had 20 points," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of Edwards in the teams' first meeting on Dec. 6 in West Lafayette, Ind. "It was crazy. The kid can score. You hope he misses some shots. He makes tough shots over hands ... and you just do the best you can against him."
Edwards had 27 points Saturday to lead Purdue (17-6, 10-2) to an 81-62 victory over Nebraska, the Boilermakers' eighth straight victory. Edwards has had two games with at least 36 points, and five with at least 20, in that stretch.
He had that game-high 20 to best the Terrapins 62-60 early in the Big Ten season at Mackey Arena. Carsen was just 4 of 15 from the field but went 9 of 9 from the free throw line.
Cowan led the Terps with 18 points that night, but Nojel Eastern blocked his last-second heave at the hoop. That decisive play was part of a disappointing offensive showing that included three straight late possessions that ended in shot clock violations or another turnover.
The Terrapins' 17 turnovers that night opened the door for Purdue, and Maryland still ranks last in the league with a minus-3.3 turnover margin. The Terrapins compensate with a Big Ten-best rebounding margin (plus-10.4 per game), paced by the Terrapin Towers -- Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, both 6-10.
"I'm just really impressed with what (Turgeon) has done with a really relatively young team, a lot of freshmen and sophomores," said Purdue coach Matt Painter.
"Their defense is great. Their big guys get a lot of attention. Anthony Cowan gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but their team defense is what has really stood out to me."
The Terrapins (18-6, 9-4) will need that defense unless they reverse a recent trend; they haven't scored more than 70 points in any of the past five games. They have lost three of their last five contests. Maryland hasn't played since Wednesday -- a 60-45 win at Nebraska -- and the road gets tougher.
Following Tuesday's game, the Terrapins are at No. 6 Michigan on Saturday, and then play at Iowa on Feb. 19.
Purdue has been one of the Big Ten's best teams recently and one of the best shooting teams, hitting 38.2 percent from 3-point range for the season. During the eight-game winning streak, the Boilermakers have been even better, hitting more than 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Ryan Cline has made 35 of his past 65 3-point attempts over 10 games and. Cline had just four points the first game against Maryland.
"Purdue is one of the most improved teams in the league," Turgeon said. "I think we're both better."
--Field Level MediaHome