Ohio State delivered by far its best performance of the season at the perfect time, dispatching No. 16 Maryland 80-56 Thursday at Value City Arena. That moves the Buckeyes to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play.
It also gives them three straight wins, the first time they’ve done that in league play this season, and consecutive wins over ranked opponents. Unsurprisingly there was a lot to take away from the Buckeyes' big win.
- 0-1-2: As D’Angelo Russell, Jae’Sean Tate and Marc Loving made their way to the post-game press conference, I overheard them decide to sit in numerical order along the podium: 0-1-2.
- Without Russell: Considering he was his usual self Thursday, Russell didn’t go to the bench much (he had a game-high 34 minutes). When he did, the Buckeyes didn’t panic.
- Free Throw Struggles: Now, I’m nit-picking here in a 24-point win over a ranked team, but Ohio State once again struggled from the free throw line. The Buckeyes hit just 14-of-26 from the charity stripe. At some point, that type of effort will cost them.
- B1G Crowd In Standings: The win moves Ohio State to 6-3 in the Big Ten, so they’re in the same position as most of the league. Through Thursday’s games seven teams had three conference losses. Only Wisconsin had fewer than three at 6-1.
It was a funny moment, but it was emblematic of something significant for Ohio State. All three of those players were incredibly effective for the Buckeyes. Loving had a game high 19, Russell flirted with a triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists), and Tate put up 16 points and eight rebounds.
That type of balanced scoring has been absent for OSU in important games. If Loving can continue to knock down threes while Tate continues to blossom, the offensive ceiling for this team improves drastically.
Russell hit the pine (or, more accurately, chair), with 15:12 left in the second half and Ohio State holding a 13-point lead. He was out for 3:30 of game clock and thanks to six points from Loving and two from Shannon Scott, he returned to a 12-point lead.
Holding court with Russell out of the game may seem minor, but the Buckeyes will have to steal stretches like that in big games in order to keep the freshman fresh for later in the season.
“We were slow off the start there and it’s like flip of a coin,” Matta said. “We’re either on fire or we’re not shooting very well. I know this, we probably got lucky tonight in terms of we were making other shots. We’ve got to get the free-throw percentage higher.”
The Big Ten isn’t as good as it has been in recent years, and the Buckeyes remain in the thick of things. Those who counted Ohio State out after a 3-3 start are looking foolish.