(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)
Ohio State hosted Maryland in the return match of the regular season. The Buckeyes came out on the short end when they last met in College Park on January 7th, 67-55. At that time, Ohio State was ranked #11, but played like a #11 seed with a dismal offensive performance. Things went a good bit differently Sunday afternoon in Columbus. Ohio State’s offense was sharp and they did well in the “high-effort” areas of defense and rebounding.
The Buckeyes (18-9, 9-8) evened the series with an impressive 79-72 win over the Terrapins (22-5, 12-4). The win was driven by Luther Muhammad (22 points) letting he scoring mountain come to him and nearly flawless second half free throw shooting (17-18) and heads-up defense with 6 steals.
The Buckeyes had five players score in double figures. Luther Muhammad led with a game high 22 points. He was ably complemented by Kaleb Wesson (15 points, Duane Washington, Jr (13) and Andre Wesson and CJ Walker (12 each). Kaleb gad a game high 9 rebounds and with CJ, had 3 assists.
The Terrapins had four players in double figures. Aaron Wiggins came off the bench to score 20 points. He was followed by Eric Ayala with 16, and Donta Scott and Anthony Cowan with 10 each. Jalen Smith had 7 rebounds and Cowan had a game high 7 assists.
Ohio State shot 43% (23-54) from the field, 40% (10-25) from 3-point range and 82% (23-28) from the foul line.
Maryland shot 45% from the field (23-51), 34% (10-29) from 3-point range and 84% (16-19) from the foul line.
Several things worked out well Saturday afternoon:
- Effort and energy worked well. Ohio State out rebounded Maryland 36-27 and 13-6 on the offensive end. This provided OSU with a 14-5 point edge in “2nd chance points”.
- Game awareness. Ohio State’s six steals all came in the second half. Most of them were due to the Buckeyes being situationally aware and jumping Maryland passing lanes.
- Poise is worth mentioning. On three different occasions, Maryland (Aaron Wiggins, specifically) scored on 3-pt shots to pull to within two possessions. Each time, Ohio State immediately responded with scores to re-extend their margin.
- Second half free throw shooting was astounding. They made their first 17 attempts before D-Wash finally missed the back end of a two shot bonus with :14 remaining in the game. They made their final four FT attempts in the first half, so the book has them at 21 consecutive FTs made.
- Transition defense on their 10 turnovers wasn’t good. Maryland scored 19 points off OSU’s turnovers. The Buckeyes scored only 11 points off 10 Terrapins TOs.
- Okay, I get it that late in the game, Ohio State had the situation well in hand. With 3:40 remaining, Ohio State held an 18 points lead, 65-47. For the balance of the game, Indiana outscored Ohio State 12-3. This team needs to have a better “close-out” mentality.
Ohio State is currently in 9th place (edges Indiana in tie-breaker) in the B1G Conference. TeamRankings.com has them projected to go 2-2 to finish the regular season. Quite possible – they could go anywhere from 3-1 to 1-3 in their final four games.
The problem here is that Kyle Young left the game with 4:30 remaining in the first half with a high ankle sprain. He returned for the second half wearing a boot. When he returns to the lineup is anyone’s guess.
This team is hard to figure out. Other than throw bodies at Kaleb to wear him out / foul him out you never know what you’re getting with these guys. In their loss at Iowa they appeared totally unfocused and inept. Three days later against a Top Ten team, OSU looked as sharp and poised as they have all season.
At this moment, Ohio State’s 9th seed would play Rutgers at #8 seed. The winner would play he #1 seed, Maryland. As of today…
The Buckeyes head to Lincoln, NE for a Thursday night game versus the Cornhuskers. Tip-off is scheduled for 97:00 pm ET. You can watch the game on ESPN2 or listen to it on 97.1 TheFan. Or both.