The Ohio State Buckeyes continue to impress in Chris Holtmann’s first season at the helm. After a dominant performance against Michigan State this past Sunday, the Buckeyes followed it up by dismantling Maryland 91-69.
The game was tight for about ten minutes before Ohio State opened the floodgates. With eight minutes remaining, Ohio State and Maryland were tied at 22-22. The Buckeyes proceeded to go on a 22-2 run and went into the break with a 44-32 lead.
Ohio State continued to embarrass the Terrapins, outscoring them in the second half 47-37 and were led by the Big Ten’s leading scorer Keita Bates-Diop with a game high 26 points.
What can we takeaway from Thursday night’s matchup.
What We Learned
1.There is more to Ohio State than just Keita Bates-Diop
The resurgence of Ohio State has come on the heels of absurd stat lines from Bates-Diop in recent match-ups. In the Buckeyes’s return to Big Ten play Bates-Diop has been an animal. He recorded a double-double at Iowa with a 27 point, 13 rebound performance and followed that up with a career high 32 points in an upset win against then No. 1 Michigan State.
However, Thursday night’s 91 to 69 victory over Maryland showed that there is more to Ohio State’s offensive attack then just Bates-Diop. Against the Terrapins, Bates-Diop was joined by fellow starters Ja’Sean Tate and C.J. Jackson in double figures as they scored 13 and 14 points respectively. Andrew Dakich provided a scoring punch off the bench, dropping a career high 11 points on 4-5 shooting from the field.
That has been the real reason why the Buckeyes have had the success in conference play. With there being production around Bates-Diop, that makes him much more effective because opponents will not be able to focus on him.
2. Ohio State’s defensive intensity has been impressive
With the Buckeye offense beginning to pick up steam, the defense is matching the intensity on the other end of the court. In their four Big Ten games this year, three times have they held their opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field, the most recent coming against the Spartans who finished shooting at just a 39 percent clip.
That intensity continued against the Terrapins. Ohio State held Maryland to a 36.7 shooting percentage from the field and 36.4 percent from behind the arc.
The Buckeyes also limited the damage from Terrapins stars Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan. The duo was held to 24 points combined, 12 points apiece, and only seven made combined shots from the field.
Ohio State’s offense has been impressive in conference play. But their defense will be the reason that they will have a chance to win the conference regular season title come March.
3.Bruno Fernando needs to step up
It is no secret that Maryland is in dire need of some help in the post. Fernando, looks like he could be that source of production. He especially played the part this past Sunday against Iowa when he recorded a 21 point, seven rebound performance. However, against the Buckeyes he was a no show.
Fernando was almost invisible against Ohio State Thursday night. He finished the night with two points and three rebounds on 1-2 shooting while being a non-factor throughout the contest. partially was due to the suffocating defense from Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson. But more often then not it was Fernando being simply in-affective.
Now it is not fair for people to expect the freshman to put up the monstrous numbers that he did against the Hawkeyes on a nightly basis. But the potential NBA Lottery Pick needs to be more consistent and effective to keep that draft stock afloat as well as Maryland’s tournament chances.
Thursday night in Columbus will definitely serve as a freshman learning experience for Fernando that I fully expect he will improve and rebound in the Terrapins game at Michigan on Jan 15.
Thursday night’s matchup between Ohio State and Maryland told us a lot of what we could expect from these two teams throughout the rest of the season.
The Buckeyes were able to follow up an intense, emotional win against Michigan State with a just as dominant performance against the Terrapins. They showed that the rest of the Big Ten needs to be put on notice and that Ohio State will be a factor in who wins the regular season conference title.
Just as the Terrapins struggled to keep up with Ohio State, they may have trouble keeping up with the rest of the conference. Three starters finished in double-digit scoring however, two starters, Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell, finished with six points combined. With the loss of Ivan Bender and Justin Jackson as well as Dion Wiley being out for the time being with a concussion, nights like this may be a occurring theme for Maryland.
The Terrapins’ schedule does not get any easier either. Maryland still has two match-ups with Michigan, away games against Indiana and Purdue, and still host Michigan State. It will be a struggle for Maryland to keep up with the rest of the conference.