Barring some kind of unforeseen miracle run, the Ohio State men’s basketball team (14-10, 4-9) is simply playing for pride at this point of the season. After starting the season 12-2 and winning two of its first three Big Ten games, the Buckeyes had lost eight of their last nine coming into this one, falling to dead last in the conference and killing any hope of making the NCAA Tournament after missing it last season, too. With crowds dwindling and head coach Chris Holtmann’s fate looking murkier and murkier with every additional loss, Saturday afternoon’s tilt with Maryland was more for pride than anything else.
The Terrapins (13-11, 5-8) were picked by the media to finish top four in the Big Ten conference this year, but were coming off of back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Rutgers. That dropped them to a three-way tie with Iowa and Rutgers for 10th place in the Big Ten, and their NCAA Tournament hopes are looking pretty slim.
Despite the recent string of losses, Chris Holtmann did not make any changes to his starting lineup. Sophomores Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Felix Okpara, and Evan Mahaffey started alongside senior forward Jamison Battle.
Kevin Willard’s Maryland team rolled out a starting lineup of Jahmir Young — who averages over 25 points per game on the road this season — Donta Scott, Julian Reese, Jamie Kaiser Jr., and Mady Traore.
The Terrapins jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the opening minutes, with Reese and Young scoring all but two of Maryland’s first 13 points. But the Buckeyes responded with a 7-0 run starting at the 13:29 mark, getting baskets from Thornton, Okpara, and Dale Bonner to get back within one point at the under-12 timeout, 15-14. Devin Royal brought some juice to the floor early on, grabbing two rebounds and dishing out an assist during his first four minutes on the floor.
After Ohio State got it back within one possession, Scott, who’s averaging 11 points per game this year, ripped off eight consecutive points for the Terrapins. The first three came on free throws, and the final three came on a three, with a layup in the middle. During that time, Ohio State scored just two points and fell behind 26-18 with 8:51 left in the first half.
After falling behind by double digits in the first half, the Buckeyes ended the opening frame on a 9-0 run, capped off by a Thornton looping hook shot off the right side of the backboard that put Ohio State up 33-32. Ohio State outscored Maryland 13-2 over the final 6:40 of the first half, which included a 5:36 stretch to end the first half where the Terrapins did not score at all.
Thornton had 11 in the first half for Ohio State, while Mahaffey had seven points, five rebounds, and knocked down his second three-pointer of the year. Scott scored a dozen in the first half for Maryland, outpacing his season average of 11 in the first half alone. Traore’s six first-half points were more than he had scored all season this point (four). He would go on to finish with eight points and five rebounds.
Maryland had re-taken a one-point lead by the under-12 timeout, 41-40. Ohio State, namely Devin Royal, got way too aggressive on the defensive end, picking up their seventh team foul less than six minutes into the second half (three of those fouls were Royal’s). Young was more assertive in getting downhill in the second half, but the duo of Thornton and Bonner also kept Maryland backpedaling in a back-and-forth game.
The Terrapins strung a few baskets together and started getting to the free-throw line, extending their lead to 55-49 by the under-eight timeout. But after a missed layup from Reese and a Thornton reverse layup, the Buckeyes made it 55-53 with 5:33 left in the game— once again a one-possession game.
After Thornton tied the game with a big three with 1:03 remaining in the game, neither team would score again, with Young’s step-back midrange jumper bouncing off the iron as the buzzer sounded to end regulation. That sent the game to overtime, with Maryland having scored just one point over the final 4:26 of regulation.
Young scored five of Maryland’s 10 points in the first overtime period, but Thornton’s layup with 63 seconds left in the game tied it back up at 71, and neither team would score for the rest of overtime. That sent the game to double overtime.
After Thornton sent it to overtime and double overtime, Ohio State got massive buckets from Battle and the aforementioned Thornton to send the home fans happy, 79-75. A Zed Key block sealed it, denying Scott a chance to tie the game with 11 seconds remaining. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Buckeyes.
Thornton led all Buckeyes with 24 points on 10-20 shooting over 43 minutes. He also had seven rebounds, four assists, and only one turnover. Gayle had 17 points and three assists in 37 minutes, and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line. The trio of Young, Scott, and Reese scored 55 of Maryland’s 75 points, with Young’s 26 points leading all scorers. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.
If you weren’t around today to catch Bruce Thornton and Zed Key play hero in double overtime, here are a few key plays and moments that played a big part in Ohio State’s 79-75 win.
Scott’s eight consecutive points
After Devin Royal’s layup with 11:16 left in the first half got Ohio State back within two at 18-16, Scott scored eight consecutive points for the Terrapins in a two-minute stretch, helping push the turtles back ahead by eight at the 8:51 mark. Scott was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, making it the sixth time this season he has hit at least three three-pointers in a game. He would go on to finish the game with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 47 minutes.
Traore gives Maryland an unexpected boost
Sophomore center Mady Traore made his first start of the season for the Terrapins, which probably threw a wrench into things for Ohio State. Traore had scored just four points all season to this point and was averaging 0.6 PPG.
In the first half, Traore played 13 minutes, scored six points (10 times his season average) and grabbed three rebounds. While not a focal point of the offense by any means, Traore generally put himself in the right spot at the right time, scoring twice on offensive rebounds and once on a lob. He went on to finish with eight points — double the amount he had scored in Maryland’s first 23 games combined.
Mahaffey connects on his second three-pointer of the season
With Ohio State trailing 32-28 and just over one minute left in the game, Thornton passed to a wide-open Mahaffey in the corner closest to Maryland’s bench. Maryland did not defend Mahaffey on the perimeter, leaving him wide open because the sophomore had only made one three-pointer through the first 23 games of the season.
With nobody in front of him, Mahaffey let it rip and buried it, making it 32-31 and getting the Buckeyes back within one possession. The sophomore finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and one block in 30 minutes before fouling out with 48 seconds left in regulation.
Royal picks up three fouls in 41 seconds
Devin Royal plays with more energy and enthusiasm than any other Buckeye, but at times the freshman gets too amped up and picks up bad fouls. He did just that early in the second half of today’s game.
He picked up his second foul of the game at the 15:04 mark, his third foul 42 seconds later, and his fourth of the game five seconds later. Zed Key checked in for Royal, and Key immediately picked up a foul five seconds later — Ohio State’s seventh of the game. That put the Terrapins in the bonus for the final 14:18 of the game.
Royal finished the game with five points, six rebounds, and two steals in 14 minutes.
Battle misses the wide-open jam, which turns into a turnover
With 7:43 left in the game and Maryland leading 55-49, Battle shot faked on the far right wing, which got Scott to leave his feet. Battle dribbled into the basket and tried to throw down a thunderous dunk, which would’ve got Ohio State back within four.
However, he missed the dunk completely, and the ball ricocheted off the rim so hard that Bruce Thornton wasn’t able to catch it cleanly. It turned into a turnover, and Maryland got the ball back, up six.
Thornton ties it with 1:03 left to go and sends it to overtime
With 1:03 left in the game and Ohio State down 61-58, Roddy Gayle took a pass from Battle at the top of the key, dribbled to the basket to draw in the defense, and then found Thornton on the far wing for an open three-pointer, which he canned. That tied the game at 61 with just over a minute to go.
Young’s free throws give Terrapins a three-point lead in OT
With Maryland leading 68-67 and 1:59 left in overtime, Reese missed a shot below the basket that was contested by Okpara. The 6-foot-1 Young came down with the offensive rebound in the mob and was fouled by Bonner. Young knocked down both free throws, making it 70-67 Maryland.
Thornton scores with the right hand, sending it to double OT
After Young split a pair of free throws with 1:21 remaining in OT to make it 71-69, Thornton came down to the other end and scored with the right hand to tie it up, 71-71 with 1:03 remaining. Nobody scored for the remaining 1:03 of overtime, which meant this one went to double overtime.
Key blocks Scott in double OT, sealing Ohio State’s win
Down 77-75, Donta Scott drove to the basket to try and tie it, but was flatly rejected by Key. Thornton grabbed the rebound, threw down the court to Gayle, who slammed a windmill dunk home to ice it for the Buckeyes, 79-75.
Ohio State (14-10, 4-9) has two days off and then will travel to Wisconsin (16-8. 8-5) on Tuesday night. The Badgers are 11-2 at the Kohl Center this season but are currently riding a four-game losing streak after falling to Rutgers on Saturday afternoon, 78-56. After holding on to first place for much of the season, the recent losing streak has dropped the Badgers to third place in the conference.
The Buckeyes’ battle with the Badgers will be streamed exclusively on Peacock and will tip off at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 13.