Last time Ohio State went on the road, it didn’t end well. The Buckeyes lost big at Indiana, falling 85-60 Jan 10.
But the last time the Buckeyes faced a Top 5 opponent outside of Columbus they got their biggest win of the season, a 74-67 win over then-No. 4 Kentucky in Brooklyn Dec. 19.
All of that is to say it’s difficult to predict how Ohio State will do when it hits the road to face No. 3 Maryland.
“We just look at it like a regular game and another opportunity to get better as a team,” Kam Williams said.
The Terrapins bring a diverse attack to tomorrow’s noon tip, boasting five players that average double figures.
Maryland (15-2, 4-1) is led by standout guard Melo Trimble and his 14.1 points per game, but the point guard get’s support from fellow guard Rasheed Sulaimon (10.2), forward Jake Layman (11.1) as well as post players Diamond Stone (13.6 ppg) and Robert Carter (12.7 ppg).
While the Terrapins are defined by their balance, Trimble is the one who orchestrates the offense. Slowing down the point guard is priority No. 1 in beating Maryland.
“He’s going to hit some tough, contested shots, we’ve just got to keep doing what we do and obviously he’s a pretty good driver, so we are going to be in the gaps on him and try to limit his touches at the free-throw line because we know he likes to get to the line,” Williams said. “So if we can keep him out of the paint without fouling that would be really good for us.”
The last time Maryland took the floor it was evident what slowing down Trimble can do for the Terrapins opponents. Michigan upset Maryland 70-67, snapping its nine-game winning streak, thanks to limiting Trimble to just two points.
Stone picked things up in Trimble’s absence in that game and has been a force down low for the Terrapins this season. The combination of the freshman, Carter and junior Damonte Dodd will present perhaps the best post presence the Buckeyes have faced this season.
Matta said that Trevor Thompson and Daniel Giddens have been good post defenders so far this season, but they’ll need to be at their best Saturday.
“I don't think we did a very good job post defense-wise last Sunday,” the coach said. J”ust in terms of what we were trying to take away. But they've shown that they can do it. They've shown at times, I think both of the guys can be two of the top ball screen defenders at that position in the country. We definitely have to have that just in terms of their ability to move and keep in a guard in front until a guy can recover back in.”
If the Buckeyes are going to pull another upset of a Top 5 team and hand the Terrapins their second straight loss, they will have to play like they did in the second half against Rutgers. Ohio State cannot afford another slow start like it had against Indiana and the Scarlet Knights.
While the game presents the Buckeyes an opportunity to score a big win, it’s also a special game for Williams as the Baltimore native will be playing in his home state for the first time as a collegiate athlete.
“There’s a few people coming but I’m going to treat this like another Big Ten game,” he said. “It’s another game on our schedule and another opportunity for us to get better as a team and as a unit.”