The number 5 Ohio State Buckeyes proved on Wednedsay night against Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that if there’s spark – there’s fire.
Despite battling foul trouble in the first half, the Buckeyes burned the Terps from beyond the arc, in transition, and on the defensive side of the floor to help pace a 76-60 victory at Value Center Arena in non-conference play.
The Buckeyes were led early by LaQuinton Ross, who started the game 4/4 from three point range. His jump shot was a weapon early as his offensive play set the tone in the first five minutes of the game. He scored a total of 20 points, 17 in the first half, as the Buckeyes shot 60% from long range in the first frame. After an Aaron Craft drive to the paint turned kick out to the nearside corner three from Sam Thompson, Amedeo Della Valle checked into the game with 11:30 to play in the first half and drained a spot up three to give Ohio State a 24-12 lead nearly halfway through the first.
It was the trey that got the fired started, but there is no doubt that the ignitor was the transition play of Shannon Scott and Slam Thompson, who nearly connected on three straight alley-oops with five minutes to play in the first.
With four minutes left in the opening frame, Thompson threw down on the iron, from a beautiful alley oop pass from the near elbow to the far side from Shannon Scott. On the ensuing Maryland possession, Scott would strip the basketball near half court and throw another lob up to Thompson, who was fouled on the way down. He’d nail ½ from the line and follow up the miss with another throw-down jam to give the Buckeyes a 33-20.
Thompson, who is quickly becoming one of the best sixth men in college basketball, might made his best move when he put the perfect touch on a spin two handed glass layup off an Aaron Craft steal at half court as the horn sounded to end the first half to make it 43-26. Thompson would add his third alley oop dunk of the night halfway through the second half. The talented Mr. Thompson would add yet another one with 6:24 to play. He finished with 14 points on 6/9 shooting .
The stats might not show it, but Aaron Craft led his team on the floor yet again. Timely passes, great screens, and solid defensive play helped spark his team throughout the evening. Craft finished with 10 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Fellow senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. also plugged away, shooting 4/6 from the floor, grabbing six boards and adding 12 points on solid shot selection.
In the second half, the Buckeyes controlled nearly every possession by using the clock to their advantage. After holding Maryland to just 26 points in the first half, Thad Matta’s squad focused in the post and used ball reversal to get to the basket at the end of the shot clock, using set plays to get their points.
Despite the blowout win, Ohio State struggled on the glass, being out rebounded 39-28. Big man Amir Williams, who sat more than earlier in the season, with Thad Matta showing a smaller lineup, had just one rebound in the game.
Besides struggling from the floor, Maryland battled with foul trouble throughout most of the game. Guard Jake Layman was held to 1-9 shooting from the floor. Former Michigan Wolverine Evan Smotrycz added 11 points inside.
While shooting 52% from the floor, the Ohio State defense held Maryland to just 39% shooting and 2/18 from downtown.
The 7-0 Buckeyes will host Central Connecticut State on Saturday, Tip-off is set for 4:30 PM