Ohio State Downs #7 Maryland for Biggest Win of the Conference Season

25th ranked Ohio State found a little home cooking to their liking and behind a sold out crowd, knocked off #7 Maryland 79-72 ending the Terrapins 9 game winning streak.  With the victory, Ohio State moved to 8-8 in conference play and 18-9 overall cementing their spot in the NCAA tournament. Luther Muhammad led 5 Buckeyes in double figures with 22 points and 5 rebounds, 2 off his career high. Kaleb Wesson added 15 points and 9 rebounds and Duane Washington scored 13 while Andre Wesson and Duane Washington Jr. each added 12.  Ohio State shot the ball fairly well from the floor, hitting on 43% of their shots overall and 40% from behind the arc, but won the game at the stripe, nailing 23 of their 28 attempts, including a stretch of 21 straight makes. In addition to the free throw shooting, Ohio State outrebounded the bigger Terps by 9 and ripped down 13 boards of the offensive variety and was the aggressor for much of the game which led to the win.

Ohio State got out in front early as C.J. Walker buried a triple from the top of the key on the Buckeyes first possession.  Maryland scored the next 6 to jump in front but Walker drilled a corner three to get the Buckeyes even.  After a Terp bucket, Andre Wesson knocked down a three from the right wing to put Ohio State back in front at the first media timeout.  A pair of Maryland threes bookended a Duane Washington bucket put the Terps up 14-11.  But, back came the Buckeyes, scoring the next 7 thanks to 3’s from Luther Muhammad and Andre Wesson to put Ohio State up 18-14 forcing Maryland to call timeout with 11:45 to play in the first half and the Buckeyes red hot from the perimeter. The Terps regained the lead thanks to lockdown defense in the half court, going on a 7-1 run to take a 21-19 advantage into the under 8 media timeout. Kaleb Wesson hit a short one hander just above the block to tie the score with 7 minutes left in the half but the Terps regained the lead at the line, hitting three free throws to go in front 24-21. Kyle Young scored while being fouled to cut the lead to 1 but missed the ensuing free throw that would’ve tied it.  On the next possession, Kaleb Wesson scored while being fouled.  Wesson missed his free throw but the Buckeyes kept the possession and Andre Wesson was fouled buried his two attempts to put the Buckeyes up 3. The Terps answered, drilling a triple from the wing that ended a 3-minute drought without a field goal, tying the score.  The Buckeyes went back up three when C.J. Walker found Kaleb Wesson off a pick and pop for three and at the under 4 minute media timeout, Ohio State led 30-27. While Maryland was making free throws, the Buckeyes were making three’s and after back-to-back triples from almost the same spot on the left wing off the fingertips of Muhammad, Ohio State led by 5.  Duane Washington Jr. knocked down a pair of free throws to put Ohio State up 7, and after a pair of Terp free throws cut the lead back to 5, Washington spun in the lane and scored off the window to complete the first half scoring and sent the teams into the locker room with Ohio State leading 40-33. Luther Muhammad led Ohio State with 9 and Kaleb and Andre Wesson added 8 each for Ohio State who shot 45% from the floor, including 8 of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc. Defensively, Ohio State held Maryland to just 42% from the floor and just 4 of 12 from deep to claim the 7 point halftime advantage.

The second half would start with the Buckeyes a man down as Kyle Young suffered a high ankle injury late in the half and he would not return but it did not deter the Buckeyes.  An early pick and pop with Walker and Kaleb Wesson led to a Wesson 3 putting the Buckeyes up 10.  After a pair of defensive stops, Andre Wesson knocked down a turnaround fade away 10 footer and Walker scored in transition forcing Maryland to call timeout just 2 minutes into the half with Ohio State exploding ahead 47-33.  A designed play out of the timeout led to a lob and laying breaking a nearly 7 minute drought without a field goal for the Terps and cut the lead to 12. After Maryland cut the lead to 10, Muhammad drilled a triple from the right wing putting the Buckeyes back up 13. Maryland knocked down back to back threes to trim the lead back to 7 but a rebound put back from E.J. Liddell and a runner off the glass from Muhammad put Ohio State back up 11 at the under 12 media timeout and 10:44 left in the basketball game. Off a Buckeye turnover, Maryland capitalized, drilling a 3 to cut the lead back to 8.  The Buckeyes went back up 10 when Andre Wesson ripped down an offensive rebound and scored on the put back but Maryland would score in transition off another Ohio State turnover and at the under 8 media timeout, Ohio State led Maryland 58-50.  The Terrapins cut the lead to 3 with just under 6 minutes to go after a pair of free throws and a triple but Andre Wesson found Kaleb Wesson on the baseline with a touch pass for a dunk putting the Buckeyes back up 5.  After a Maryland turnover, Duane Washington was fouled on the dribble drive and buried both free throws putting Ohio State back up 7. A pair of free throws from Maryland and a Walker lay in off the dribble drive preceded a Maryland score that sent the teams to the benches for the final media timeout and Ohio State on top 64-59.  Just prior to the timeout, Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. was called for a technical foul, kicking on the floor at Kaleb Wesson, Cowan’s fifth foul and sent Ohio State to the line. Washington buried both technical free throws giving Ohio State a 7 point lead and the ball. The Buckeyes turned it over right away and Maryland scored in transition to cut the lead back to 5. A pair of Kaleb Wesson free throws put Ohio State back up 7 with 3 minutes to go but Maryland answered with a triple to trim the lead back to 4.  Washington scored with a floater in the lane to put Ohio State back up 6 and Chris Holtmann called a 30-second timeout with 2:09 on the game clock. Following a Maryland offensive foul, Luther Muhammad buried a pair from the stripe giving Ohio State a 72-64 lead with just over a minute and half remaining in the game. After a Maryland turnover and a Buckeye miss, Maryland completed an old-fashioned three-point play to trim the lead to 5. With time not on Maryland’s side, they fouled Muhammad and he buried both putting the Buckeyes back up 7 and Ohio State called timeout to set their defense with 45 seconds to go. A pair of free throws each way preceded a Terrapin 3 to cut the lead to 4 with 30 seconds remaining. Muhammad buried another pair to put the Buckeyes back up 6 and Washington split a pair late to complete the scoring. 

 This win cannot be understated.  Not only is it a big time win over a red-hot team and one of the best teams in college basketball, it gives Ohio State much needed confidence moving forward.  When they play with energy and cohesiveness defensively, they can play with anyone in the country. In the last few weeks, Ohio State has turned around their season and now can position themselves for a relatively high seed in the NCAA tournament if they can finish the last few weeks strong. The question coming out of this game however is the health of Kyle Young who left with an ankle injury and they cannot afford him to miss any significant amount of time with Ohio State’s relative lack of depth along the front line. At the end of the day, enjoy this one tonight, move forward, and continue to build toward March.

Ohio State hits the road for the next game, playing Nebraska in Lincoln on Thursday night.  Tip time is scheduled for 9 pm and airing on ESPN2.

-Jason Harris

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