The Buckeyes cruised to an 80-56 win.
It was supposed to be a matchup of two of the country’s top freshmen as D’Angelo Russell and Melo Trimble squared off.
Russell dominated, scoring 18 points with 14 rebounds and six assists, able to watch the final 2:25 of the blowout from the bench. Trimble finished with just three points on 0-of-8 shooting.
It was supposed to be tough for Ohio State, who had found success in recent games with a small lineup, to get things going inside. The Buckeyes outrebounded the Terrapins 51-32 and scored 32 points in the paint to Maryland’s 16.
Regardless of what it was supposed to be, it was a dominating Ohio State (17-5, 6-3) win in the Buckeyes most complete performance this season.
“Everybody brought something to the table,” Russell said following the Buckeyes third straight win. “Feel like we’re going through our stride and playing the best basketball we've been playing all year. No stopping now.”
No one was stopping Ohio State Thursday.
As they have repeatedly this season, the Buckeyes started slow against Maryland (18-4, 6-3), connecting on just one of their first seven attempts. But the Terrapins started even slower, not hitting a field goal until 7:31 had run off the clock.
Despite the incredibly slow start from Maryland, Ohio State had just a 7-5 lead when Michael Cekovsky hit the Terrapins first field goal. Both teams continued to their sloppy play as a Dez Wells three pulled Maryland to within 16-15 with 6:53. Then the Buckeyes got going.
Ohio State exploded for a 12-0 run, gaining a comfortable margin. Russell led the run with two threes, completing a four-point play on one of them, but Anthony Lee, Marc Loving and Jae’Sean Tate also helped extend the Buckeyes lead to 28-15 while the Terrapins suffered a 3:26 scoring drought.
The Terps chipped away before halftime with a modest 11-3 run, but Loving drilled a three on the Buckeyes final possession to send Ohio State to the break with a 34-26 edge.
It was all part of an incredibly balanced effort from the Buckeyes. Loving finished with a game-high 19 points while hitting all five of his three-point attempts. Tate added 16 points and eight rebounds. Six different Buckeyes scored at least five points while hauling in at least five rebounds.
“I think that was probably the difference in the game,” head coach Thad Matta said. “Obviously Marc shooting 5-of-5 from 3, he had great lift. I’ve been on him just in terms of we needed scoring, we need him to shoot the basketball. He was set to shoot it tonight.
“Jae’Sean’s activity tonight, he’s got such great footwork and he gets it down there and he is finishing well with the exception of the missed dunk in the first half. You love his energy, I thought all these guys played with great energy tonight.”
It was more of the same in the second half. Lee was particularly active after intermission, scoring four points with a block and a rebound in the first minute of the second period.
A three from Jared Nickens cut the Ohio State advantage to 41-32 with 17:26 left in the game, but a Tate layup on the ensuing possession got the Buckeye lead back in double digits where it would stay for the rest of the night.
“I think this was probably the most consistent we’ve played for 40 minutes,” Matta said.
Maryland kept things close for a while, but a 12-3 Ohio State run that started at the 9:16 mark turned a 58-47 advantage into a 70-50 edge with just 4:57 remaining. The Buckeyes would extend that lead to as many as 27, allowing Russell to rest the final 2:25 of the game.
“For some reason we just weren’t very good tonight, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after crediting the Buckeyes play. “We couldn’t get it going tonight.”
“We just weren’t very tough tonight. They were tougher than we were. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a team out-rebounded like that. I doubt it.” While the rebounding margin was a huge factor in the Buckeyes win, so was the defensive discipline. Trimble entered the game averaging more than 16 points per game and was held to just three, not registering a field goal. Maryland’s other two main scoring threats – Dez Wells and Jake Layman – combined for 22 points on 8-of-26 shooting.
“He’s a terrific player and I would like to say we had a lot to do with it, but I think he just sort of had one of those nights,” Matta said of Trimble. “I don’t know, I thought we did a nice job of just challenging shots.”
Maryland shot just 30.5 percent on the night while the Buckeyes connected on 46.7 percent of their attempts. After starting 3-of-13 from the field Ohio State was 25-of-47 (53.2 percent).
In all, it was the most complete performance that Ohio State has put together all season, giving them three straight wins for the first time in conference play and back-to-back victories over ranked opponents after starting just 3-3 in Big Ten Play. “To turn the corner at 6-3 from where we were, I’m pretty happy right now,” Matta said.
“It’s like I told those guys after the game, we’ve won three in a row now and our max was two in a row. What do we do next? Do we get complacent? The biggest challenge we have is keep getting better.”