With 35 seconds left in Maryland basketball’s Friday night victory over Ohio State, Anthony Cowan Jr. pulled up for a deep three-pointer inside the state of Ohio outline on the Buckeyes’ home court. As is becoming tradition for the junior, he buried another late-game shot from well behind the three-point line. But unlike Monday’s game against Wisconsin, this shot didn’t matter. It was the exclamation point on the closest thing Maryland has played to a complete game during its seven game winning streak.
As hot as Maryland was coming into Friday’s game, there were still a few intangibles working against the Terps. They were facing a desperate Ohio State team in its own building that had lost three straight. The Buckeyes also had two more days in between games than Maryland, having not played since losing at Iowa on Saturday. The Terps barely pulled out a win against Wisconsin, a team that had recently dropped out of the top 25, just like Ohio State.
But none of that mattered. After the lead changed 10 times in the first half, Maryland went on an 8-0 run to take a 38-30 lead and never trailed again. Even when Ohio State scored six straight points to cut the lead to one at the beginning of the second half, the Terps went on a 10-0 run that young teams don’t usually make on the road. When the clock hit zero, Maryland had another convincing road win.
This one was different than Maryland’s other two conference road wins. Against Rutgers, the Terps pulled away early in the first half against an overmatched team. At Minnesota, Maryland pulled away thanks to hot second-half shooting for a deceiving 82-67 victory. At Value City Arena, the offense stayed hot throughout and the defense improved as the game went on.
The Terps relied on three-pointers and getting tough shots to fall early on, but started getting into a groove near the end of the first half. Five players scored in double figures, and Eric Ayala may have joined them if he didn’t injure his hip in the second half. As the shots came within the flow of the offense, Maryland kept hitting them. The Terps shot 58 percent for the game, and a ridiculous 11-for-17 from beyond the arc.
Ohio State was able to keep up thanks to hot early shooting and second-chance opportunities, but struggled to do the same in the second half. Part of that was the Buckeyes missing open shots, but Maryland also started to force the Buckeyes into tougher looks and not let them get easy ones in transition. After Kaleb Wesson was a problem on the glass early, he got into foul trouble and was neutralized for the rest of the night. Ohio State went on a six-minute scoring drought late in the second half, and hit one field goal in the final 8:42. For what feels like the first time in a long time, Maryland put together a near-complete performance on both ends of the floor.
But there’s no time to gloat, and Mark Turgeon and his team know that. The Terps have a quick turnaround to get ready for No. 6 Michigan State, who’s as good as any team in the country. Junior point guard Cassius Winston is playing like an All-American, and the Spartans are strong on the glass, which is a given for Tom Izzo-led teams. As good as Maryland was at Ohio State, it won’t win in East Lansing committing 19 turnovers and only getting four offensive rebounds like it did Friday night.
Monday will be Maryland’s toughest game of the season so far. Michigan State will likely be too much for a young Terps team, but given their improvement over the past few weeks, they won’t go down without a fight.