Against Maryland, Kyle Young leads No. 4 Ohio State to fifth straight win

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Feb 8, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA;  Ohio State Buckeyes forward Kyle Young (25) reacts after being fouled with forward E.J. Liddell (32) as Maryland Terrapins guard Darryl Morsell (11) walks away during the second half at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The layoff lasted four days and approximately 14 minutes.

Thursday, Ohio State went to No. 8 Iowa and emerged with a thrilling, 89-85 win that bumped the Buckeyes to No. 4 in Monday’s updated Associated Press poll. With a four-game winning streak in tow, they headed to the Xfinity Center, an arena where they’ve never won to face a mediocre Maryland team that still had a trio of impressive road wins against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

It had all the makings of a trap game, and for about 14 minutes it lived up to the billing. Then Ohio State (16-4, 10-4 Big Ten) flexed, closed the first half on a flurry and finally experienced success on Maryland’s newest court with a 73-65 win.

The Buckeyes had lost their previous four games at the Xfinity Center, one by 35 points. This time, they would take the lead for good with 4:40 remaining in the first half on a CJ Walker three-pointer and lead for the final 24:40 of the game.

In those prior four games, Ohio State had led for a total of 16:30. The Buckeyes have now won five straight, their longest Big Ten streak since they opened coach Chris Holtmann’s first season with a 9-0 record. Their five true road wins are one shy of their highest total under Holtmann.

Senior forward Kyle Young’s fingerprints were all over it. When the Buckeyes couldn’t score down low, he found a way. When they couldn’t nab an offensive rebound, he did. And when it was over, he finished with a career-high 18 points, leading four Ohio State players in double figures. Duane Washington Jr. also finished with 18 points and four assists, while Justin Ahrens and Walker each had 11.

"Just trying to let the game come to me in the first place," Young said. "Playing off others, letting my teammates create, getting offensive rebounds. When you’re out there playing hard and letting the game come to you, good things will happen." 

Feb 8, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA;  Ohio State Buckeyes forward Seth Towns (31) ,  forward Justice Sueing (14) and guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) react after the play during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead by five at the half, Ohio State held Maryland without a field goal for the first 7:12 of the second half while growing its lead to 14 points. The Terrapins would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way thanks to that opening stretch where they missed their first nine shots.

"I thought that we played with more force, had better wall-ups," coach Chris Holtmann said. "I also thought we had better communication. I also thought they missed some clean and open looks, but we did play with more force."

In a case of déjà vu, the Buckeyes again fell behind early and took multiple blows early. The Terrapins (10-10, 4-9) took a 13-5 lead, weathered an Ohio State comeback and kept the Buckeyes from getting anywhere near the paint in again extending the lead to six points at 25-19 with 6:25 to play. To that point, Ohio State had no points in the key, five turnovers and had scored exclusively by way of the jumper.

They would quickly jump ahead of the Terrapins from there, though, and it started with a three-pointer from Washington, who had time to take a dribble and launch a wide-open three from in front of the Maryland bench. It was the first of four straight possessions that ended in three Ohio State points, the latter of which was a three-point play from Young with 4:02 to play that marked his team’s first points in the paint.

In between, Ahrens and Walker hit threes in order. Ahrens was whistled for a technical foul as he ran back up the court following Walker’s swish, and Eric Ayala hit one of the two free throws as a result.

After trailing 25-19, Ohio State closed the half with a 16-5 run to take a 35-30 lead into the half. They were ahead by five thanks to 8-for-16 shooting from three and in spite of 5-of-12 shooting from two (one of which was an Ahrens jumper with his foot on the line) and just one free throw during the half. They also endured a scoreless first half from leading scorer E.J. Liddell, who picked up two fouls and only played eight minutes.

Holtmann also gave his team a pretty good lecture during the first half as Maryland built an early lead.

"We needed it," Washington said. "We were a little sluggish, little slow. He definitely got on us and told us that we need to pick it up. We got out of it what we needed to hear."

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy