Maryland men’s basketball kicked off a five-game home stand with an easy 87-62 win over Ohio on Thursday.
Senior center Michal Cekovsky had his best game of the young season, scoring a season-high 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting to go with eight rebounds and two blocks. Kevin Huerter would pace the Terps with a game-high 17 points, including hitting 4-of-8 threes, and six rebounds.
It wasn’t all great news, as freshman Bruno Fernando went down with a little over 11 minutes left in the game, and hobbled off with the help of Jackson and a coach. He was in clear pain, not able to put much weight on his right ankle. He missed a chunk of the preseason with a high ankle sprain, and came down hard going up for a rebound. He went into the locker room to be examined and was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle.
The difference in the level of competition was evident from the start. The Terps really got the offense going with a three by Huerter, for the first field goal of an 15-2 run before the Bobcats hit a three to slow the bleeding.
Turnovers let Ohio hang around in relative striking distance, but the Terps tightened the handle. Maryland had seven giveaways by the 10-minute mark of the first half and finished the period with nine; the Bobcats had four at the time, but also finished the half with nine.
Justin Jackson missed his first start since last season’s Georgetown game, after not being able to finish the prior practice with an illness, per the team. Jackson was still available and came in at the under-16 mark and looked tired, but his game wasn’t.
He tied with Cekovsky for a team-high 10 points in the first half, and Jackson went 2-of-2 from beyond the arc in eight minutes to push the lead to 30-14. In between the triples, Jackson found his post game, with a nice post spin and a finish in the lane.
Freshman Darryl Morsell picked up his first career start in his absence and looked like he belonged, albeit against lighter competition. He finished with six first-half points and added four rebounds and three assists.
The lead hovered between 13 and 16 points for the rest of the half, with the Terps taking a 41-28 lead into the break.
The second half was all Terps. Maryland pushed the to 20 points before the under-16, and this time wouldn’t relinquish it.
The second half could be characterized best with with an alley-oop from Anthony Cowan to Fernando, who killed a kid (I mean, not really, but really) with the slam. Just look for yourselves.
Bruno please stop trying to KILL PEOPLE pic.twitter.com/DBiNe5WGcl— Jared Goldstein (@_jgoldy17) December 8, 2017
The Bobcats would cut the lead down to 12 after some lackadaisical play from the Terps, but never closer. Maryland would extend the lead as far as 23 points in Fernando’s absence and cruised the rest of the way to the win. The Terps’ turnover issues were still present, and Maryland finished with 19. Nine walk-on points in the final minutes—five from Travis Valmon, four from Reese Mona—pushed the margin to 25.
The Terps (8-3, 1-1) are back in the Xfinity Center on Saturday against Gardner-Webb at 12:30 p.m.
Three things to know
- The sophomores had a solid outing. After not starting, Jackson was the story of the first half. He was on fire for a little, and all three sophomores would end the game in double-figures. Huerter paced the team and added six rebounds, Cowan tied his career-high with seven assists to go along with his 12 points, and though he wouldn’t score in the second half, he helped stabilize the Terps in the first.
- This was Cekovsky’s best game in a while. The senior scored in double digits for the first time since the season opener against Stony Brook, and scored at least 15 points for the fourth time in his career. The last time he matched the total was against Jacksonville State last December.
- The loss of Fernando is hard to quantify. Fernando was already popping up on some draft boards, but, more importantly, his injury means the Terps are without their emotional leader. In addition to being Maryland’s top shot blocker, second-best rebounder and third-best scorer, by average, Fernando is always the loudest on the court. Luckily for the Terps, they have this home stretch to get him healthy before the New Year.