COLLEGE PARK – There are two consistent themes throughout the course of the Maryland Terrapins regular season: Slow starts and emphatic second half scoring bursts.
Rinse and repeat for the Terps when they faced No. 11 Ohio State on a snowy Tuesday in College Park.
After facing a sizable opening-minutes deficit, No. 12 Maryland came roaring back. They took control riding their red-hot 3-point shooting. Capped off with another stellar second half, the Terps finished for a statement-making 67-55 win.
This slow start could be blamed on the first snow of the winter. Fans were late, including famous Terps alum Scott Van Pelt who just made it to his seat before the opening tip. But it also had Maryland crawling out of the gate. By the end of the opening half the Terps had accumulated 11 fouls and only eight made baskets from the field. Fortunately for them, their 3-point game melted the snow to carry Maryland in the first half. By shooting 7-for-11 from deep in the opening stanza, the Terps led 28-22 at the break.
Maryland (13-2, 3-1) rode that advantage as Anthony Cowan Jr. (20 points) carefully navigated the Terps to their first victory over a ranked opponent of the season.
But again, it was the underrated defense that carried the torch for the Red, Black and Gold. Ohio State had barely more points than they did shots in the first half (22 to 20). The Buckeyes (11-4, 1-3) were held to a 29% clip in the first 20 minutes.
The 11th defense in the country, according to KenPom, gave the Ohio State fits. A simple, but physical man-on-man defense had the Buckeyes off their marks when finding their shots. The Terps were unrelenting, not doing anything fancy but keeping Ohio State off-balance. Their shooting acumen did not improve much in the second half as they finished with 31% shooting mark, 19% from deep.
Finally all their hard work defensive paid off with an explosive put-back slam from Aaron Wiggins (seven points) after a miss from Eric Ayala.
The biggest damage against Ohio State though was what Jalen Smith and Donta Scott did against junior Kaleb Wesson. In the early going it was evident that the gameplan was to get the 6’9” center into foul trouble. The post duo was successful. Wesson was one short of maximum allotment for the game but managed 15 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes.
Maryland’s start was another painfully slow display, as has been replicated all season. After six possessions, the Terps had zero points to show for it and an 8-0 hole to climb out of once again.
Just like their last contest against Indiana, it was Smith from long range that opened the scoring for Maryland. His first basket was a wide open 3-pointer from the right wing, the first of 11 points on the night for the sophomore.
The win marks Maryland’s second Quadrant 1 victory on the season and first at home. All season the Terps had rode through a relatively easy nonconference schedule. Their biggest tests to this point had resulted in their only two losses on the season. With it they had two slow starts they were unable to overcome.
Beating Ohio State changes their narrative on their season. They fell behind, exploded back and this time won against their best opponent of the year.
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