It has been a long and trying week for the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-7, 11-5), and the road does not get any easier. On Sunday, the Buckeyes looked to finish their road season strong at Maryland (13-15, 5-12).
The Buckeyes struggled on offense throughout this one after averaging 83 points per game over their last two and fell 75-60 to Maryland.
Ohio State is in the middle of a long stretch of games over a short period of time to end the regular season, but they were 2-0 (thankfully) heading into their showdown in College Park. The Buckeyes defeated Indiana on Tuesday 80-69 in overtime after trailing by four with 40 seconds left. Then, they defeated Illinois on Thursday 86-83 after leading by 16 at one point.
It wasn't the best of starts for Ohio State, as they went down 8-0 and forced an early Chris Holtmann timeout. They followed that up with a 14-4 run and took a 14-12 lead behind five points from E.J. Liddell and four points from Kyle Young.
Both teams went fairly cold from the field over the next five minutes, with Maryland leading 22-19 after an Eric Ayala steal and layup, a Cedric Russell three-pointer and then another Ayala layup.
After an up and down six minutes, Ohio State called a timeout with 3:45 left in the first half, trailing 29-24.
At the half, Eric Ayala led all scorers with 13 points. Fatts Russell and Donta Scott recorded eight and seven points for Maryland, respectively. For Ohio State, Kyle Young had eight points on 4-for-4 shooting. Liddell and Cedric Russell added seven and six points, respectively. Maryland led 32-28.
Maryland jumped put to a 36-30 lead to start the second half, but eight-straight points from Jamari Wheeler kept the Buckeyes in this one. After some back and forth scoring and a ton of fouls (12 combined in eight minutes), Maryland led 46-42 entering the under-12 media timeout.
It seemed every time Ohio State had a chance to tie or take the lead from Maryland, Donta Scott and Fatts Russell made a big play for the Terrapins to keep Ohio State at arms length. Maryland led 55-50 at the under-8 timeout. Right before the under-8 timeout, Ohio State center Zed Key injured his ankle in the lane. He left the game and went to the locker room to be checked out.
After the Key injury, Maryland used offensive rebounds, second chance points and managing the clock to go on a quick 9-3 run and take a 64-53 lead with 4:09 left in the game, forcing an Ohio State timeout.
Down the stretch, a mix of cold offense and fouls for the Buckeyes ultimately turned this one into a bit of a runaway for the Terrapins. Also, Fatts Russell was spectacular for Maryland, knocking down big shot after big shot and carrying the offense on his shoulders.
Maryland would go onto win 75-60, moving to 14-15 on the season and 6-12 in conference. Ohio State falls to 18-8 overall and 11-6 in conference.
Russell finished with 27 points for Maryland while Malaki Branham led the Buckeyes with 13 points. Russell finished with 19 points in the second half.
On the road
It has not been easy for Ohio State when they travel. Winning on the road in the Big Ten is tough and the Buckeyes have shown that. They entered their final road contest against Maryland
Malaki the magician
The Buckeyes sensational freshman Malaki Branham is averaging 26.3 points per game over the past three games. After a semi rough start to the season over the Buckeyes first 10 games, Branham has been one of the top scorers in the conference and is leading the running for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Last time against Maryland
The Buckeyes defeated Maryland at home 82-67 on Feb. 6. E.J. Liddell did E.J. Liddell things, recording 24 points and 11 rebounds and Justin Ahrens came out of a mini slump he was in, recording 14 points and four three-pointers.
Last year, Ohio State won at Maryland 73-65. It was the Buckeyes first time winning at Maryland in their last five tries.
Starters for Ohio State
The Buckeyes ran out their usual starting lineup recently of Jamari Wheeler, Eugene Brown, Malaki Branham, EJ Liddell and Zed Key. That starting lineup has been utilized six times this season, and entering play today Ohio State was 4-1 when trotting that group out to begin games.
Maryland’s hot start
The game did not start the way Ohio State wanted it to, as the Buckeyes got into a 8-0 hole immediately. The Buckeyes started 0-for-3 from the field and had a turnover, forcing an early Chris Holtmann timeout. However, the Buckeyes went on their own 7-2 run to cut the Maryland lead to 10-7 at the under 16 media timeout.
Ayala gets going
Maryland senior guard Eric Ayala, who was an Ohio State target out of high school, scored 11 straight points for the Terrapins to give them a 27-24 lead. Ayala is Maryland's leading scorer, averaging 14.1 points per game, but has battling an injury over the past three weeks.
Nine straight points from EA.— Maryland Men’s Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) February 27, 2022
He's come to play. pic.twitter.com/YdCkAlQPM7
Trailing at the half
Ohio State trailed Maryland 32-28 after the first 20 minutes of this one. When trailing at the half, the Buckeyes are 3-6 this season, However, they trailed at the half against Illinois last time out, and came back to win the game.
Wheeler starts hot
Ohio State starting point guard Jamari Wheeler is not known for his scoring prowess, but he had the first eight points for the Buckeyes in the second half, knocking down two three-pointers and cutting the Maryland lead to 38-36.
Ohio State will head home for their final three games of the season, taking on Nebraska (7-21, 1-16) on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. on Big Ten Network. This game was rescheduled from Jan. 22 due to COVID-19. The Cornhuskers have really struggled this season, so the Buckeyes need to get back on track in Columbus in their next time out.