Maryland showed poor effort and even worse execution on both sides of the court, getting blown out of Columbus by an excellent Ohio State team Wednesday night by a final score of 76-60.
We've said it all year -- Maryland is a very good team when Nick Faust thinks he's the number four scoring option (which is the reality of the team's makeup), and a fairly poor one when he has higher aspirations than that. The guard is a great player in transition and has very good defensive instincts, but his tendency towards Kobe-like shots early in the shot clock can be maddening. Today was very much a case of the latter, as the guard repeatedly took contested three-point shots in transition, ending Maryland opportunities and given Ohio State easy buckets on the other end.
That kind of offensive strategy extended to the rest of the team -- the Terps had just two assists on their first 15 field goals, a complete reversal from their exciting, team-based approach against Morgan State. Jake Layman had an awful night, hitting just one of nine shots from the field, including none of his five from deep.
The problems weren't restricted solely to Faust and offensive-decision making (although Maryland turned the ball over, a lot) -- Ohio State's first nine scoring possessions netted three points, through a combination of and-ones and deep shots.
Maryland trailed 43-26 at halftime, thanks to an 18-0 margin (in favor of the Buckeyes) in points off turnovers. The Terps were able to chip the lead down near ten in the second half, but were never really in the game after the first half explosion.
The Terps turned the ball over 14 times in the game, but were much better handling the ball in the second half -- it's safe to say a lot of that can be attributed to the Buckeyes' decreased ball pressure with the comfortable lead. Five of those turnovers came from Roddy Peters, who has never looked more like a freshman. Maryland shot horribly -- they made two of 18 three point attempts -- and looked unwilling to pressure Ohio State on the outside.
In terms of individual positives, Charles Mitchell played well, scoring 12 points with 11 rebounds, and Dez Wells had a solid second half, finishing with 19 points. Evan Smotrycz kept Maryland in the game early, but disappeared in the second half and finished with 15.
An important thing to remember: Ohio State is a legitimate top-five team (before the game, KenPom had them second in the nation behind Louisville). Maryland is not. Top-five teams can beat up on non-top-five teams without it being the end of the world (the football Terps are 7-5 and bowling even after a 63-0 loss). Maryland has a lot of problems, and many of them were exposed in this game, but it's still early in the season with the entirety of the ACC schedule still ahead.
This is a Maryland team that still expects to make the NCAA tournament, and this game was not the end-all, be-all for that -- it just means the Terps will have to do well in ACC play (which should be no different from normal expectations). This team has a lot of talent, and it's early -- Seth Allen coming back will change the dynamic, and the team will continue to grow. Losses like this are undeniably bad (personally, I would count the Oregon State one as much worse), but it's one game -- and a game Maryland was expected to lose by double digits.
One thing that can be safely taken away from this game? Maryland isn't an elite team. They're not going to compete for the ACC crown. That really shouldn't come as a surprise, and while it's understandable to have expectations tampered after a game like this, that's exactly what it is -- one game. But what a horrid one game it was.
That's another takeaway -- Maryland played a very poor game. That doesn't mean Maryland is a very poor team (although they're demonstrably worse than Ohio State), but it does mean they have a lot of problems to work on before they head into ACC play. Non-conference play, while certainly having an impact on the selection committee, is essentially the pre-season, and the only hope available after a loss like this is that it points out severe flaws in the team to the coaching staff that they can work on and fine-tune before conference play starts.