Columbus. Ohio – The No. 25-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes took a seven-point lead into halftime and built a lead as large as 14 to upset the No. 7-ranked Maryland Terrapins 79-72 at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State found success in this contest from the three-point line and the free throw line especially, where they went 23-of-28. Ohio State found balance offensively with five players scoring in double figures. Maryland played well offensively also, shooting 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. However, they were out-rebounded by nine and gave up 13 offensive rebounds.
Luther Muhammad led the way for the Buckeyes with 22 points and converted on four of his eight three-point attempts. He also went 8-of-8 at the free throw line, but his impact wasn’t only on the offensive end. Muhammad used his length and athleticism on the defensive end to disrupt last week’s Big Ten player of the week, Anthony Cowan Jr. Cowan Jr. was held to 10 points on 1-of-4 shooting with most of his points coming at the free throw line. Muhammad did a great job of not allowing Cowan Jr. to get his shot off by crowding his air space and preventing dribble penetration for shot attempts at the rim. Muhammad will be a player to watch going forward due to his possible 3 and D potential, but he still has room to grow in terms of his ability to create his own shot. He also is currently playing off other gifted offensive players, which allows him to play to his strengths as a catch and shoot player. Look for him to possibly breakout next year as a junior for the Buckeyes.
Kaleb Wesson was also a big contributor today for the Buckeyes adding 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals. Wesson contributed in multiple facets of the game offensively, whether it was scoring in the post, popping out to the three-point line to hit threes or finding his teammates out of the post. Wesson was also impressive defensively getting steals while hedging ball screens and by walling up at the rim protecting the basket. Despite his athletic deficiencies and inability to play above the rim and block shots, he still impacted the game by his smart positional defending and basketball I.Q. on the defensive end. At the next level, teams will question his fit due to his lack of athleticism and limitations defensively, but he is a capable pick and pop big who can score in the post and is an underrated passer as a big man.
Despite his offensive struggles, Cowan Jr. still affected the game offensively through his ball handling and passing. He at times was able to break down his man and get into the paint to find open shooters. He also was great in transition finding shooters and was good in the half court finding cutters. He ended the game with seven assists. Jalen Smith, the best pro prospect on the Terrapins, struggled offensively during the contest. He was held below his season average of 15 and ended up with eight points. Smith struggled to finish through contact and struggled with the physicality of Kaleb Wesson, especially around the rim. However, he was stout on the glass totaling seven rebounds and ended up with three blocks and a steal. Smith used his length and athleticism greatly to his advantage especially when protecting the rim. Smith projects to be an NBA player due to his length, athleticism, improving skill set and his ability to step out and knock down the 3 as a center.
Ohio State (18-9) looks to build off this upset by taking on Nebraska on the road Thursday. Maryland (22-5) looks to bounce back on the road against Minnesota on Wednesday.
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