Bball:2021-22 Ohio State vs Maryland

Playing for the first time in 7 days due to yet another postponement, the 16th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat, getting out to a big lead early and cruising to a 82-67 win over visiting Maryland. Ohio State moves to 14-5 and 7-3 in the Big Ten with the win, while the loss dropped Maryland to 11-12 and 3-9 in conference play. Playing at home for the first time since a January 18th win over IUPUI, the Buckeyes raced out to a double digit lead 6 minutes into the game and never looked back cruising to their 10th home win in 10 tries. E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 11 rebounds and 5 assists for his third double-double in the last four games, while Zed Key and Justin Ahrens each added 14. Maryland’s Donta Scott led all scorers with 25.  The Buckeyes shot 51% from the floor, drilling 11 of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc, while holding Maryland to just 39% shooting, including 10 of 29 from long range. 

After a pair of empty possessions by Ohio State, the Terrapins got on the board first with a 12 foot jumper, but back came the Buckeyes. Jamari Wheeler caught a quick feed on the right wing and rattled down a three and after good man up defense by Zed Key forced a traveling violation, Key caught a pass on the right block and scored with the left hand. Another Key left hand hook mid lane put the Buckeyes up 7-2 before Maryland got back on the board. Another quick feed to Key at the rim led to a bucket and Maryland answered with a tip in and at the first media timeout, Ohio State led Maryland 9-6. Out of the timeout it was all Buckeyes.  Back to back Malaki Branham triples and Wheeler got to the rim off the bounce for a score forcing the Terps to call a timeout with Ohio State now ahead 17-6 and 14:12 to go in the first half. A Maryland free throw stopped the 8-0 Buckeye run and after a Liddell free throw, five straight Terp points forced the Buckeyes to call timeout as Coach Holtmann was not happy with Ohio State’s transition defense as Maryland had closed to within 6. Kyle Young scored with a jump hook in the lane to end the Terp run and then Justin Ahrens drilled a three from the right wing to put Ohio State back ahead by 11. The Buckeyes kept adding on as Joey Brunk scored from the left block after a pair of pump fakes but a Maryland free throw stopped the Buckeye run. Key split a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes back up 13, but a Maryland triple cut the lead to 10. Meechie Johnson drilled a 15 footer from just above the free throw line and a feed to Liddell in the lane led to a dunk and with 6:49 to play in the first half, Ohio State was firmly in control, up 30-16. A pair of free throws by the Terps cut into the lead and facing a 2-2-1 press, Ohio State turned it over and the Terps took advantage scoring mid lane to cut the lead to 10. Liddell scored off a feed by Wheeler, but a Terp triple cut the lead to 9. A Liddell baseline jumper increased the lead back to double digits and Branham found a cutting Liddell right of the paint for a score to put the Buckeyes back up 13. Maryland created an extra opportunity with an offensive board and took advantage, drilling a triple and at the under 4 minute media timeout, Ohio State 36-26. A Terp free throw cut the lead to 9, but a pair of free throws by Liddell and one by Young increased the Buckeye lead to 12. After a Maryland miss, Liddell found Ahrens in transition for a long three from the left wing and the Buckeyes were up 15. Maryland scored at the rim to finish the first half scoring and at the half, Ohio State led Maryland 42-29. The Buckeyes shot a blistering 61.5% from the field in the first half, including 5 of 11 from long range, while Maryland was held to just 32% and just 4 of 14 from deep. E.J. Liddell led all scorers with 11 to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Maryland was led by Donta Scott’s 10. 

Meechie Johnson forced a turnover on the opening possession of the second half and the Buckeyes got on the board first as Key scored with the left hand off the glass. A Donta Scott triple got Maryland a little closer but Wheeler answered with a triple of his own. Following a Maryland miss, Key scored with a tip in and after a Terp turnover, Liddell scored with a mid range jumper and the Buckeyes were on a 7-0 run.  The run ended when Scott found the bottom with another three and at the under 16 media timeout, Ohio State led 51-35. Out of the timeout, Ahrens bagged 2 of 3 free throws after he was fouled attempting a triple, and a pair of Johnson free throws bumped the lead to 20.  Maryland got back on the board with a free throw, but a long Johnson triple from the right wing increased the margin to 22. Four straight Terp points cut into the lead before Johnson found Ahrens in transition for a triple from the left wing and the Buckeyes were up 21. A pair of Terp freebies were followed by a Young strong rebound and put back. After a Maryland bucket, a put back by Liddell and Ohio State took a timeout with 10:58 to play leading 65-44. Back to back Terp triples edged Maryland a bit closer. Key split a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes up 16 but a Maryland jumper cut the lead to 14. Liddell got separation at the top of the key and drilled a three to stop the Terrapin 8-1 run. Maryland hit a three to answer Liddell’s, but Key grabbed a miss and scored to keep Maryland at arm’s length and at the under 8 media timeout, Ohio State led 71-55. Five straight Maryland points out of the timeout cut the Buckeye lead to 11, but an old-fashioned three point play by Liddell put the Buckeyes back up 14. Scott got to the rim for a dunk off the dribble but a pick and pop three for Liddell at the top put the Buckeyes ahead 77-62 at the final media timeout of the game. A pair of Terp free throws coming out of the timeout trimmed the lead to 13, but an Ahrens triple from the right wing after a pump fake, put the Buckeyes right back up 16 as time was running short on the Terps. Branham got to the rim off the bounce for a dunk to increase the lead, but an old-fashioned three point play by Maryland cut the lead to 82-67 with under 2 minutes to play and after a Maryland turnover, the benches emptied and there would be no more scoring as the Buckeyes secured the win. 

The Buckeyes have struggled to get into a good rhythm with all the starts and stops and injury concerns, playing without Eugene Brown in this one, but the depth and leadership of this team continue to keep Ohio State in the thick of a highly contested Big Ten race. Having a legitimate superstar and potential National Player of the Year in E.J. Liddell certainly helps but the continued contributions from the perceived role players, and there are many of them, makes things difficult on opponents as they don’t know who that guy or guys are going to be from game to game. Things won’t get easier as they will have to play a lot of games in a short amount of time due to the postponements but if any team can handle that kind of schedule, it would be this one with their depth. It will be a busy upcoming week as they head out on the road for a pair of big road games as the Buckeyes look to try to build on this game, play well and attempt to string together wins to try to win a Big Ten Championship. 

Ohio State hits the road to tangle with Rutgers on Wednesday night.  Tip time is scheduled for 7 PM and airing on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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