Again, an opponent was draining baskets against an Ohio State defense powerless or effortless in its efforts to resist. No. 19 Maryland had come to Value City Arena on Friday night and built a seven-point halftime lead while shooting a blistering 62.5 percent from the field.
In spite of that, the Buckeyes quickly turned things around by forcing three straight turnovers to pull within a point, and the 14,716 in attendance roared in anticipation of the ending of a three-game losing streak for the home team.
Then Maryland called timeout, drew up a play and came up with an open three-pointer from Darryl Morsell that had no chance of doing anything but finding the net. Order was restored, the Terrapins started a 10-0 run and kept Ohio State at arm’s length the rest of the way in a 75-61 win that felt all too familiar to the Buckeyes.
“We were kind of just going through the motions (defensively),” senior guard C.J. Jackson said. “We weren’t really guarding with a purpose as to how we preach and the coaches preach every day in practice. We were just there. They were in a rhythm, and when you give a good team like that rhythm they’re going to make wide-open shots.”
The Terrapins (16-3, 7-1 Big Ten) shot 58.1 percent (25 of 43) for the game, 64.7 percent (11 of 17) from three-point range and watched the Buckeyes take 44.1 percent of their shots from three-point range while only making 23.1 percent of them.
With a long Maryland defense collapsing onto sophomore center Kaleb Wesson and rendering post feeds nearly impossible, the Buckeyes couldn’t make enough shots to make the Terrapins change their minds. Ohio State has scored 61, 62 and 61 points in its last three games.
“The book’s out on how to guard us,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “They didn’t deviate a whole lot on that in terms of how much they were collapsed on Kaleb. Guys had some open looks, we took some quick ones, but I think we’ve got some guys that we’re trying to get some confidence to right now, too.”
Freshman Duane Washington Jr. provided some of that, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shootin, including six of the final eight points of the first half. He was 3 of 7 from three-point range; the rest of the Buckeyes were 3 of 19. Jackson had 15 points, while Wesson was limited to 11 on seven field-goal attempts.
It wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the first four-game losing streak for the Buckeyes since they opened the 2016-17 Big Ten season with four straight losses.
“The biggest thing is we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Jackson, who was re-inserted into the starting lineup after coming off the bench at Iowa last Saturday. “Whether it’s a bad shot or not defending well enough. We’re very capable. We’re in the game most of these games, (and it) goes down to the last couple of minutes. I guess you could say that’s what’s frustrating.”