Kevin Willard, Players Review Maryland’s Win over Ohio State

In front of a nearly-filled Xfinity Center, Maryland rode a dominating start to the second half into its second Big Ten win of the season after defeating Ohio State 80-73.

In Maryland head coach Kevin Willard’s eyes, being back inside Xfinity Center helped his team get back on track. “We’ve been on the road at Wisconsin, at Michigan, at Rutgers, three really tough places to play. I kept telling these guys the whole time, I’m like as long as you don’t lose your attitude, as long as you don’t lose your work ethic, the schedule will turn on you and we’ll get some home games,” Willard said postgame.

Jahmir Young led the way with a season-high 30 points, the most since the veteran guard dropped 24 against Illinois in last month’s Big Ten season opener. Young shot 8-of-18 from the field while adding another 11 rebounds to finish with his first double-double as a Terp. The veteran guard kicked off the game with the first five points for Maryland and shot 13-of-15 from the free throw line after staying aggressive as he routinely slashed into the paint.

It was a swift change from the first half as the Buckeyes were able to take control in the final minutes before halftime. Both teams traded buckets early in a back-and-forth game that featured six lead changes through the first ten minutes thanks to Maryland’s improved shooting efficiency from the floor. Maryland found itself faced with an early dilemma after Donta Scott picked up a pair of fouls in the first four minutes of the game, sending him to the bench as Julian Reese struggled around the rim against the Buckeyes’ length in the frontcourt.

Still, Maryland was able to win the battle on the boards after outrebounding Ohio State 40-26 in the win. The Terps were able to convert that into 16 points, but the Buckeyes would still prove to be a tough opponent through the first 20 minutes. Ohio State used a 13-3 run to take a five-point lead into the locker room, but Maryland reclaimed control in the opening minutes of the second half after its fullcourt defense led to four Buckeye turnovers in the first three minutes. Maryland used that to its advantage after a triple for Don Carey tacked onto the 12-0 run to open the second half, forcing Ohio State to call an early timeout. In the end, Maryland would outscore Ohio State 22-6 and shoot over 75% from the floor through the first nine minutes of the second half as the Terps controlled the game in every facet.

“I thought we made that adjustment in the press. You know, I thought the big thing was I thought we were just letting them kind of come up against us in the first half and even flow into their offense, which obviously they’re, I think they’re the second-best or fifth-best offensive efficiency team in the country. I didn’t think we could do that, that was the biggest worry. I thought we did a great job in the second half not letting them kind of flow. We made them work to get the ball up and I thought that was the biggest difference,” Willard added.

“These last couple of games, we’ve had a hard time scoring the ball so that affects us being able to press,” Young added. “Today us being able to score the ball in the first half allows us to press and really get after them. They didn’t have too many ballhandlers, just trying to get after them and speed them up. We knew we could turn them over once we sped them up and that would help us on the offensive end as well. Just trying to take good shots, make our shots and then just getting after them and press was key for us.”

The Buckeyes’ shooting gradually improved as they finished just over 43% from the field in the second half, while Ohio State would bounce back thanks to Brice Sensabaugh dropping 12 second-half points all inside the arc. Still Maryland was able to at least maintain a one-possession lead the rest of the way to help end its three-game slide in conference play. Maryland shot 60.9% over the final 20 minutes proved to be the difference and with head coach Kevin Willard turning back to his traditional starting lineup, all five starters finished in double-figures in the win.

Maryland will get another week of rest before its next game at Iowa next Sunday, but getting back to College Park helped get the Terps back on track.

“It was just good to be home. I think these guys felt good. Sleeping in their own bed, not traveling.”

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