COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Thad Matta has been wondering about his team’s toughness.
Marc Loving matched his career high with 19 points and D’Angelo Russell added 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead Ohio State to an 80-56 victory over No. 16 Maryland on Thursday night.
The Buckeyes (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten), at times a timid bunch on the boards this season, dominated the Terrapins (18-4, 6-3) on the glass (51-32) and on defense.
“We played tougher,” Matta said. “We were quick to the ball. For the most part, guys did what they were supposed to. We rebounded the ball well, we rebounded out of our area. We did a good job of the rotations defensively and walled guys up.”
The doubts now belong to the Terrapins.
“I guess we weren’t tough enough,” swingman Evan Smotrycz said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Coach Mark Turgeon added, “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a team get outrebounded like that. I’ll have to look. I doubt it.”
Jae’Sean Tate, starting his third game in a row, added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes, who have won three in a row — including the last two over ranked opponents at home.
Loving was benched last week after a sorry defensive effort. He responded by hitting all five of his 3-pointers as the Buckeyes went 10 of 17 behind the arc.
“My role didn’t change,” he said of not starting. “It was a good night. I was able to knock some shots down.”
Russell, the nation’s leading freshman scorer, flirted with a triple-double. He also had six assists and two steals, and didn’t commit a turnover in 34 minutes.
He had an easy explanation for his rebounding.
“The ball bounces to me a lot,” he said. “That’s something that I decided to take upon myself, to rebound better as a 6-foot-5 guard. I’ve got to do something down there.”
Ahead by eight points at halftime thanks to a 12-0 run, the Buckeyes took control early in the second half.
Up 41-32 just 3 minutes in, the Buckeyes went on a rapid-fire 7-0 run. Later, Loving hit consecutive 3s to push the lead to 54-38 with under 14 minutes left, and Maryland never again threatened.
Dez Wells had 12 points and Jake Layman 10 for Maryland, which had won four of five.
It was supposed to be a battle between two of the top freshmen in the Big Ten, if not the country. But Russell’s play easily eclipsed that of Maryland’s leading scorer, 6-foot-3 Melo Trimble, who came in averaging 16.3 points per game.
Trimble had a forgettable night. He missed all eight shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, and ended up with three points, one rebound and one assist.
“He’s a terrific player,” Matta said. “I’d like to say we had a lot to do with it, but he just sort of had one of those nights.”
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Russell, on Ohio State’s turnaround after splitting its first six conference games: “I credit the losses. I feel like the losses we had at the beginning of the year make us who we are now. Everybody brings what they’re supposed to. There’s no turning around. We just keep going forward and keep getting better every day.”
Maryland: Balance is clearly one of the Terrapins’ strengths. Who do you want to stop? And what will it cost you? Maryland is the only team in the Big Ten with three players averaging 13.5 points or more per game. Trimble came in at 16.3, Layman at 14.3 and Wells at 13.6.
Compare that with Ohio State, which had only one player over that mark (Russell at 19.4 ppg).
Ohio State: It was the first Big Ten matchup between the teams, but they had met six previous times with Ohio State winning four.
The schools met in three consecutive seasons (1983-85), with the Buckeyes taking two. Terps All-American Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose in 1986 after being taken No. 2 overall in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, starred in all three, averaging 20.3 points and six rebounds.
Maryland: The Terrapins, who alternate home and away until stringing together a second straight home game on Feb. 24, return to XFINITY Center to play Penn State on Wednesday.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes hit the road for four of their next five games, starting with a game at Purdue on Wednesday.
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