By Alex Mann.
Coming off losses against No. 16 Purdue and Penn State, the No. 21 Maryland Terrapins rallied behind freshmen guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 86-77 before a sellout crowd of 17,950.
Before tip-off, Maryland cemented legendary coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell’s legacy by lifting a banner in his honor into the rafters of the Xfinity Center. Coach Mark Turgeon’s Terps followed suit, but paid their respects with laser focus, intensity and effort.
“Energy and preparation. We looked like a team throughout the whole game,” Turgeon said. “I could tell our guys were dialed in.”
Melo Trimble (10 points and 4 assists) struggled with his shot throughout the game– although he influenced the game in other ways including his calm demeanor in crunch time– which created an opportunity for other teammates to step up in the games’ final minutes.
Cowan (19 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists) and Huerter (18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists) filled the Trimble-sized void, as they paced a Terps’ offense that shot 49.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from three-point range.
Huerter acknowledged that other players making shots helps ease the pressure on Trimble, “when he drives there are not as many guys in the paint trying to steal or block a shot and he trusts other guys to make shots.”
Both freshman guards drilled deep three-pointers late in the game to help ice the resilient Buckeyes
“Sometimes games just come down to who makes shots towards the end of the game,” Huerter said. “My three, then Anthony’s after was just as big. We just made shots at the end.”
Turgeon wasn’t surprised by their play, “That’s why you recruit so darn hard. You recruit good players.”
Perhaps the Terps’ greatest advantage was their depth. The bench, led by Jaylen Brantley (11 points, 2 assists and 1 steal), outscored their Ohio State counterparts 33-0.
“We just try to help the starters when they get out of the game,” Brantley said.
Reserve center Michael Cekovsky (7 points and 4 rebounds) got the crowd to erupt with three rim-rattling slam dunks, two of which were alley-oops off feeds from Brantley and Cowan.
“He was great. We ran some lobs to him and he was 3-3 [from the field],” Turgeon said. “He had four defensive rebounds and he was active.”
Brantley stealing a wayward Buckeye pass, racing down the floor and converting the transition layup illustrates another Maryland strongpoint: points off turnovers, where they outpaced Ohio State 19-8.
Ohio State Forwards Marc Loving (24 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists) and Jae’Sean Tate (20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists) stepped up for the Buckeyes, who were without the services JaQuan Lyle and Keita Bates-Diop, but Ohio State still fell short.
“Give Maryland credit,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “I think they played very well and did the things they needed to do to beat us when they needed to do them.”