Ohio State suffered the worst loss of the Thad Matta era Saturday afternoon, in a 100-65 loss to Maryland in College Park.
Maryland jumped out to an 8-4 lead, and it looked as if they were a possession or two away from starting to pull away from the Buckeyes early. The Bucks would answer going on a 7-0 run, but Rasheed Sulaimon would tie it with a three going into the under-16 timeout.
The Buckeyes weren't playing particularly well, but found themselves in the game for the majority of the early part of the first half. But it wouldn't go without a team as talented as Maryland extending a lead, and quickly got up 26-17 on the Buckeyes with under 10 minutes remaining in the half.
It was clear the threat down low, while having to guard a skilled guard like Melo Trimble was quite the challenge. Robert Carter was leading the way for the Terps offensively early, with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Melo Trimble also had five assists, and Diamond Stone seven points underneath the basket.
For every Ohio State basket, Maryland had an answer. Marc Loving knocked down a three, but gave it right back up on the other end to a wide-open Rasheed Sulaimon. Ohio State remained unable to trim the Maryland lead, who had great rotation, boxed out after every shot, and had great looks at the basket.
Ohio State's inability to match Maryland's intensity and consistency caught up with them in the final six minutes and change of the half. The Terps finished the half on a 14-4 run, and were up 48-30.
Maryland continued their dominance early in the second half. The Terps jumped out to a 63-33 lead in the first five minutes of the half, and things were just downright ugly. Maryland would go on a 22-3 run over the course of seven minutes, increasing their lead to 72-35 with 12 minutes still remaining.
The display by Maryland in the second half was just incredible. The scoring was balanced throughout the second half, and it seemed the Terrapins were set on getting everybody involved in the scoring spree. It was just plain ugly. A huge Jake Layman dunk put the Terps up 90-47 with over seven minutes still remaining in the game, and it seemed like the game couldn't end fast enough.
By the latter end of the second half, Maryland had pulled all of its starters up 91-50 with five and a half minutes left in the game, and that was all she wrote.
Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 15 points and five boards. Trevor Thompson had 10 points and seven rebounds, and JaQuan Lyle had nine points and four assists for the Bucks.
Maryland was led by Robert Carter's 25 points, as well as Rasheed Sulaimon's 22 on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, making four of five shots from deep. The Terps had 23 assists on 37 of their made baskets, as well as shooting 11-of-21 from deep.
3 things we learned:
1. Share the rock. Ohio State did a horrible job of sharing the basketball in the first half, and it killed them. The Buckeyes were in the game early, while not playing very well, and through their first eight made shots, they had just one assist. This team, like just about any other team in basketball, does better when there's great ball movement, and everybody in getting involved in the action. The Buckeyes were able to hang in there, but against a team like Maryland, you can't bank on them carrying a slow start.
The Terps had 14 assists on 19 made baskets in the first half, and at times it seemed as if they were toying with the Bucks with their quick and precise ball movement. When Ohio State is able to do the same, it helps get the bigs involved, which has been a crucial part in almost every other Ohio State win. They'll have to master that looking forward if they want to compete in big games such as this one.
2. Depth is needed. Ohio State has their best games when Daniel Giddens, Kam Williams, or A.J. Harris is providing scoring off of the bench. They did not have that today, and it really took everything out of them. When you're going up against a team such as Maryland, if you don't have some sort of depth, to give your big hitters some rest, eventually you'll get gassed out, and run out of the gym. It only took 25 minutes for that to happen today.
Teams this young really need any type of help that they can get, and when you're getting little to essentially nothing off of the bench, that's a recipe for disaster. Hopefully the Buckeyes can just take experiences like these, and learn from them. But this is absolutely something we have not seen in the Thad Matta era, and it's tough to see.
3. At best, this was a learning experience. Maryland is a very good team. They have studs in their backcourt and frontcourt, and are truly one of the more complete teams in the nation. An Ohio State win was not expected today, and it's tough to ask a team full of freshman to key in on Melo Trimble, while Diamond Stone and Robert Carter are waiting for their chances. When a young team falls behind to one such as skilled as this Maryland team, it's never going to end well.
The Buckeyes have long found their defensive stride from their offense this season. A great offensive showing gets the Bucks eager to get back on the offensive end of the floor, and that's when a better defensive effort is displayed, and the best performances come out of the Buckeyes. They'll have to learn to string those two together, and make that work moving forward. But the effort needs to be there, it wasn't today.