Notes: Buckeyes shake off recent history, cruise to win at Maryland

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr., left, goes up for a shot against Maryland forward Donta Scott during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in College Park, Md. Ohio State won 73-65.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The state pride is evident at a Maryland men’s basketball game.

At the first media timeout of the second half inside the Xfinity Center, the student section behind the basket where the opponents are shooting will raise a massive replica of the state flag that stretches from court to rafters. It unfurls as a hype video slowly intensifies on the scoreboard, building the whole event into a frenzy.

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Monday night, the music still played. The video was still shown. But the banner had already been in place for hours, long before No. 4 Ohio State took the floor. There just weren’t any students there. If they had been, they would have seen the Buckeyes push their lead to 41-32 on a pair of E.J. Liddell free throws.

And maybe they would’ve stuck around to sing the alma mater when the final whistle sounded. Instead, Ohio State patiently waited as the Terrapins ignored the public-address announcer who had asked all present to stand for a recorded playing of the alma mater.

Then the Buckeyes rushed their way to the visitors’ locker room and celebrated like no other team in their history. In what is albeit a truncated history, Ohio State recorded its first-ever win after four mostly fruitless trips here with a 73-65 victory that, for the entirety of the second half, was not seriously threatened by the hosts.

Ohio State led for the final 24:40 and pushed its lead as high at 16 points. In all, the Buckeyes trailed for 11:25 after having led for a total of 16:30 in their previous four trips to the Xfinity Center.

“I thought our guys had a good focus and mindset about it,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “I was not terribly pleased with a couple early stretches, but outside of that I thought it was a really quality performance.”

The Buckeyes shook off a slow start that had all the makings of a trap game. Four days earlier, they had won at No. 8 Iowa, ascending three spots in Monday’s updated Associated Press rankings. Ohio State is now being projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and on the heels of all that came a road game against a Maryland team that was only 4-8 in Big Ten play but had road wins against Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota this season.

So a little than six minutes in, with Maryland ahead 13-5, the Terrapins’ bench area could feel the upset in the making. And as the Buckeyes failed to make any sort of gains in the post, their outside shooting would help steady them early.

But before they would pull away, Holtmann would deliver a red-faced lecture during a timeout with Maryland ahead 23-17 with 8:39 left in the half.

“We needed it,” junior guard Duane Washington Jr., who would tie for the team lead with 18 points, 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.”

Holtmann was displeased with the foul calls to that point as well, but he said afterward that it wasn’t a motivational ploy to get his team to play harder or better.

“The reality is you’re just angry,” he said. “You’re just venting. You’re angry. I think our guys know I don’t do that necessarily on purpose or as any type of motivational play. I did not think we were playing with the amount of force that we needed to. I did a poor job making a call early in the game that gave them an open three.

“I just did not think we were playing with the necessarily force or physicality. They were walling us up and we were not finishing.”

With 6:25 left in the first half, Maryland’s Donta Scott scored in the paint to make it a 25-19 lead for the Terrapins. They would make just one more field goal during the remainder of the first half, and the drought would extend well into the second.

Ohio State forced the Terrapins to miss their first nine shots of the second half while committing one turnover. Maryland’s first field goal came with 12:48 left, on a layup from Scott, and by then the Ohio State lead was up to 46-32.

Maryland forward Donta Scott, center, loses the ball while being dolble-teammed by Ohio State forward Kyle Young (25) and forward Justin Ahrens (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in College Park, Md. Ohio State won 73-65.

In between the two Scott baskets, Maryland made just one field goal in the span of 13:37.

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

Career game for Kyle Young

Look for a full story on the senior forward later Tuesday, but Young finished with a career high 18 points. He was active in almost every facet of the game, keeping possessions alive with offensive rebounds, hitting a three-pointer and providing energy that the Buckeyes were lacking a little bit early on.

So, too, was Young, by his own assessment.

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“I would just say early on I wasn’t really playing as tough as I should on a few finishes, even on the defensive end,” he said. “I wanted to switch that up pretty quick and was able to do that.”

Of his 18 points, 13 came during the second half.

“How phenomenal was Kyle Young tonight?” Holtmann said. “He’s taken a giant leap. We talk about EJ being improved, and Duane and Justin (Ahrens), but Kyle Young, throw him in there because his growth has been important for us.”

Justin Ahrens, Darryl Morsell earn technical fouls

Both teams were whistled for technical fouls during the game.

Ohio State went first, and it came with a little less than five minutes remaining in the first half. After having fallen behind early, the Buckeyes were tied at 25 after Ahrens hit a three and then forced Maryland into a shot-clock violation when CJ Walker reclaimed the lead with a wide-open three from the right wing with 4:40 to play.

As the Buckeyes went back down the court, play was stopped and Ahrens was given a technical foul. Eric Ayala hit one of two free throws, but the Terrapins turned it over on the next possession when Donta Scott was called for three seconds in the key.

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“Justin, they said he said something to the bench,” Holtmann said. “Justin admitted to it. You can’t talk to another team’s bench. He was just excited to his teammate.”

It didn’t slow Ohio State down. Young scored on a right-handed hook shot while being fouled and hit the free throw – Ohio State’s only first-half attempt from the charity stripe – to push it back to a five-point lead and Maryland never got closer.

Later, with Ohio State ahead 54-41 after a Young put-back of an E.J. Liddell miss, play was stopped during Maryland’s offensive possession after a collision. As he went to the bench, Morsell slammed his protective facemask to the ground and was immediately given a technical foul.

“I believe there was a reaction on their part to a call,” Holtmann said. “I’m not sure if Morsell was reacting to a call. I tend to not ask what another team’s technical is for, but I will ask when we get one.”

After the whistle, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was yelling at the officials about Liddell. The play was reviewed, but the call was not changed and it appeared that Morsell had made contact with a teammate.

Quotable

“This is my fourth year. I’ve been through a lot with these guys. A bunch of different teams with different guys on it. Having experience and being a part of Ohio State, being with these coaches for four years, as my team here is winding down you don’t want to take anything for granted and you want to play as hard as you can every time you step on the floor. I try to go into every game and give everything I’ve got regardless of how my body feels.” – Young

“We’ve got a great group. They’re super coachable. They want to win. They know they hadn’t won here before and they responded.” – Holtmann

“We take great pride in our abilities to be versatile. That’s why we’re playing some really good basketball right now. It’s hard to guard us. A thing we can do to balance that out is take poor shots. We had a couple of them early, a couple in the second half as well. We’re still getting better. Shot selection is huge for us, taking advantage of what we feel is a mismatch.” – Washington

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy