Revenge, a top-10 win and, in all likelihood, a NCAA tournament bid locked up.
Ohio State got it all on Sunday at the Schottenstein Center – even though everything nearly fell apart down the stretch.
A 14-point second-half lead for the Buckeyes slowly diminished until they led by just by just three points with 5:52 remaining. Yet Ohio State managed to get enough defensive stops, made 13 free throws in the final four minutes and got late buckets from Duane Washington Jr. and CJ Walker to pull off a 79-72 home win on Sunday.
With the victory, Ohio State's overall record improved to 18-9 overall and 8-8 in the Big Ten. It's the Buckeyes' first top-10 win since December and their fourth of the season overall.
To open the second half, the Buckeyes forced Mark Turgeon to call a quick timeout after three straight buckets – a Kaleb Wesson 3-pointer, Andre Wesson fadeaway jumper and Walker layup in transition – gave them a 47-33 lead with 17:56 remaining in the game.
|23-54 (42.6%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||23-51 (45.1%)|
|10-25 (40.0%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||10-29 (34.5%)|
|23-28 (82.1%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||16-19 (84.2%)|
That advantage deteriorated as Maryland proceeded to go on a 22-11 run over the following 12 minutes that chopped the lead to three points with under six minutes remaining. But Washington, Walker, Luther Muhammad and Kaleb Wesson each made at least one pair of free throws in the final four minutes – as part of a run of 21 consecutive free throws made by the Buckeyes – to help secure the win.
Catching fire from behind the arc, Muhammad scored a season-high 22 points. He also tied a season high by making 4-of-8 3-pointers. On the defensive end of the court, he helped lock up Maryland guard and leading scorer Anthony Cowan Jr., who scored 10 points – and went 1-for-4 from the field – before picking up a technical foul with 3:54 remaining to foul out of the game.
Five Ohio State players – Muhammad, Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson, Walker and Washington – scored in double figures. Kaleb Wesson had 15 points and nine rebounds.
As a team, the Buckeyes hit 40 percent of their 3-pointers, making 10-of-25 shots from beyond the arc.
Maryland went without a made shot in the final five minutes of a back-and-forth first half that included six lead changes and six ties. Taking advantage of the opening, Ohio State went on a 13-6 run in the final 4:14 to grab a 40-33 halftime advantage. During the run, Muhammad hit two of his three first-half 3-pointers. He entered the break as the game-leading scorer with nine points.
Kyle Young had three points and three rebounds in 10 first-half minutes before injuring his right ankle and exiting the game with 4:29 remaining before halftime. Washington Jr. started the second half in his place. Chris Holtmann said after the game that Young has a high-ankle sprain and is still being evaluated.
Next up: Ohio State travels to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a road matchup with the Cornhuskers on Thursday. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN2.
- Holtmann didn't deviate from his starting five. As usual, he rolled out Walker, Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Young and Kaleb Wesson to begin the game.
- DJ Carton remains away from the Ohio State team. He returned to Columbus from Iowa to take classes a few days ago, but he's still not with the basketball program.
- A ton of high school prospects were in attendance for Sunday's game. Five-star small forward Kendall Brown was on an official visit and unofficial visitors included Meechie Johnson, Kalen Etzler, Malaki Branham, Paul McMillan, Isaac MckNeely and DJ Moore. Johnson and Etzler are 2021 commits.