It’s almost impossible to put up 100 points on a team and then go to their place and end up running them out of the gym again. It just doesn’t happen, especially when the opposition is coached by a guy like Thad Matta.
So Maryland faced a locked-in, motivated Ohio State team on Sunday in Columbus, but they pushed back en route to a 66-61 victory over the Buckeyes.
One of the main reasons? Another strong game from senior forward Jake Layman, who went for a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while also being an agitator on the defensive end of the floor.
Layman is becoming an important barometer for Maryland, especially defensively.
Think of it like this. Within Maryland’s starting five, they have two dynamic duos -- one in the backcourt with Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon and one in the frontcourt with Robert Carter, Jr. and Diamond Stone.
But someone needs to bring those pieces together -- a glue guy. That’s Jake Layman and the ability to do that comes from his versatility on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, he can take you down into the post to score or step out and hit a jumper. Defensively, he can hold his own on the block or do what he did against Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff and get stuck with the opposition’s best player and help to shut him down.
That is proving to be especially helpful as we fully understand the implications of Dion Wiley’s season-ending injury. Playing small ball is less feasible simply because of the minutes distribution, but Layman’s versatility helps to make at least some of it possible.
The progression from early in his career at Maryland to now is staggering.
He now posts a 93.5 defensive rating per 100 possessions, well down from his 100.1 mark that he posted as a sophomore. At the same time, for as much criticism as he has taken, his offensive rating has risen to 116 this year -- the highest of his career.
You can thank his 59.8 percent two-point percentage for that as he has diversified his game after being forced into a role as a power forward last season.
Layman is the type of player who helps to decide whether Maryland is Sweet 16-good or Final Four-good. He has matured to the point where he knows he can affect the game in ways other than just scoring the ball.
If he making an impact all over the floor, that is another step toward what looks like a very, very high March ceiling for Maryland.