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Maryland men’s basketball at Ohio State preview

The Terps look to snap a two-game losing streak.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

On a two-game losing streak, Maryland men’s basketball will head on the road this weekend to take on Ohio State.

Following a 56-53 loss Tuesday at home to Rutgers, the Terps dropped to 13-10 on the season, severely diminishing postseason hopes.

They produced perhaps their worst shooting performance under head coach Kevin Willard, shooting 31.5% from the field and 11.1% from three. Outside of Julian Reese (19), Jahmir Young (16) and Donta Scott (8), no Terp scored more than two points.

Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes will tip-off at 4 p.m. ET and air on FS1.

Ohio State Buckeyes (13-10, 3-9 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 16-19, 5-15

Head coach Chris Holtmann is in his seventh season at the helm of Ohio State’s men’s basketball program. In his first year, Holtmann was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Buckeyes to a 25-9 record, which placed second in the Big Ten.

Last season, the Buckeyes missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Holtmann, and they are off to a similar start this season, winning just three of 12 conference games.

Players to watch

Bruce Thornton, sophomore guard, 6-foot-2, No. 2 — Thornton is Ohio State’s leading scorer with 15.4 points per game, which ranks 14th in the Big Ten. He also leads the Buckeyes in assists per game (4.2), while corralling 3.1 rebounds per contest.

As a freshman, Thornton was the only Buckeye to play and start in all 35 games, averaging 10.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Jamison Battle, fifth year forward, 6-foot-7, No. 10 — A 2022 All-Big Ten honorable mention, Battle is shooting 44.1% from three — the eighth-best mark in the country — on 6.3 attempts per game. He ranks second on the team in both points (14.4) and rebounds per game (5.2).

Roddy Gayle Jr., sophomore guard, 6-foot-4, No. 1 — Gayle barely trails Battle in points per game, averaging 14.2 points. He is not the same threat from beyond the arc, though, shooting just 28.2% from three. However, he makes up for it in other ways, ranking second on the team in assists per game (3.3) and third in steals per game (0.7).

Strength

Multiple skilled scorers. Ohio State is one of two teams (Iowa) in the Big Ten to have three players (Thornton, Battle and Gayle) rank top 20 in the conference in points per game. Meanwhile, Maryland has just one player (Young) who averages more than 14 points per game.

Weakness

Youth. Aside from Battle, every Ohio State starter is a sophomore. While Thornton, Gayle and Felix Okpara each received playing time last year, dealing with Maryland’s seven-man rotation, which includes five upperclassmen, could be difficult.

Three things to know

1. Another shot for Maryland’s defense to shine. Over the last three games, the Terps have allowed just 56.7 points per game, which would lead the Big Ten by nearly nine points per game. Ohio State ranks bottom five in the conference in both points per game (75.1) and field goal percentage (44.7%), providing an opportunity for Maryland’s defense to thrive once again.

2. Two struggling teams. Maryland is on a two-game losing streak, while Ohio State is on a five-game losing streak. With each team struggling and time for an NCAA-Tournament push running out, one team will bounce back, while the other continues its slide to the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

3. Harris-Smith has hit a wall. Over the last six games, freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith has failed to contribute much on the offensive side of the court, averaging 3.7 points per game. With Young and Reese receiving little help, Harris-Smith needs to revert back to his early-season form.