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A confident Maryland basketball team kept its hot streak going at Ohio State

Since a nail-biting win over Nebraska to start 2019, the Terps haven’t slowed down one bit.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men's basketball (16-3, 7-1 Big Ten) kept its winning streaks alive in Columbus on Friday night, beating Ohio State 75-61 to make it three straight road wins, six straight conference wins and seven straight overall.

After the first 10 minutes saw 10 lead changes, the Terps took hold of the game with an 8-0 run in the first half. Maryland wouldn’t trail again. Ohio State forced Maryland into 13 second-half turnovers, but the Terps were able to stabilize and storm to the finish. Shooting 58 percent from the field and going 11-of-17 beyond the arc more than helped seal the deal.

Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan Jr. led the way for Maryland, but it was a team effort as five Terps finished in double figures. Fernando picked up his 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 boards, and Cowan finished with 20 points, six assists and three steals.

“I think a lot of times last year we panicked when we were in a crucial time,” sophomore center Fernando told reporters Thursday. “This year, I think we’re playing with a lot more poise and just playing within the flow of the game and just trying to do things right.”

The Terps have been in a lot of close games this season, and you have to win your fair share of those to survive a 20-game Big Ten schedule. So far, Maryland’s gone 3-3 in games decided by five points or less, winning its last three. After close losses to Virginia, Purdue and Seton Hall early in the season, it looked like much of the same. Then, Maryland knocked off Nebraska to open the new year in a come-from-behind win and followed up with four more conference wins, despite trailing at crucial points in each.

“We know what we are capable of because of that [Nebraska win],” senior walk-on-no-more Andrew Terrell wrote Tuesday on Tilted Bench, his blog. “We know we could win every game no matter what happens. We expect to win again. I believe, for some of us, we almost lost sight of that expectation because of a tough season last year.”

The confidence has clearly transferred over to the court. After struggling in the first 10 minutes against Rutgers, the next half-hour turned into a blowout. The Terps trailed by six at the half to Minnesota on the road and by eight at home to Indiana and won both, beating the Gophers by 15. Against Wisconsin Monday, the Terps avoided a major letdown, after letting a 21-point lead turn into a deficit with under a minute left. Maryland retook the lead on a well-timed three from Cowan, and a pair of free throws and a lucky miss sealed another win.

“We were nervous at the end of [the Nebraska] game,” head coach Mark Turgeon told reporters Thursday. “But it allowed me to show film of us not being perfect and still winning a game, and say ‘alright guys you don’t have to be perfect to win a game.’”

Against Ohio State, a three-pointer from Darryl Morsell stabilized the Terps after Ohio State cut a 45-38 halftime lead to just one. It also sparked a 10-0 run that put the Terps up 12 and gave Maryland a cushion for anything else the Buckeyes threw at them. Ohio State would cut it to six a couple times, but another run keyed by Cowan gave Maryland another double digit advantage and kept it out of reach.

A stout Ohio State defense rotated well and forced a fair share of late-shot clock possessions, but it didn’t affect Maryland. Whether it was Fernando kicking it out to Eric Ayala or Aaron Wiggins with the clock running down, it usually resulted in a bucket. When the Buckeyes started cutting into its lead, the veteran Cowan calmed the team with a late-shot clock three to get cooking.

“We don’t really look at the clock,” Fernando said. “If you have five seconds or 10 seconds, if we call a play we just try to run it to the end and try to get a bucket out of it. We’re just not panicking as much as we did last year.”

The Terps lost Ayala with over 12 minutes remaining, as he went down hard and eventually went to the locker room. He wouldn’t return after going 2-of-2 from deep for six points, but Wiggins picked up the slack and reached double figures, going 4-of-7 from the field and a crucial 3-of-4 beyond the arc for 11 points.

In the midst of its conference slate, it won’t get easier for Maryland. Next up is a road matchup with No. 6 Michigan State on Monday in the Breslin Center, followed by a “home” game against Illinois in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 26. The Terps won’t get another true two-game homestand until the end of February.

“We are so much more confident than we were in December and early January,” Turgeon said. “And we’re not going to win every close game, but I think we’re going to hopefully play well in all those games.”