Desperate for a win to steer itself in the right direction, Maryland men’s basketball was on a three-game, five-game losing streak against powerhouse conference rivals.
When his team needed him most, alumni guard Jahmir Young stepped up and provided much-needed support, putting together a dominant 30-point, 11-rebound performance to lead the Terps (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) to a. An 80-73 home win over No. 24 Ohio State (10-5, 2-2) on Sunday afternoon.
“I just try to do anything to win,” Young said. “My mates believe in me and I believe in them, so I just do whatever it takes. … Just coming back to our home turf, I felt great. I’m just trying to get out here and be aggressive from the start.”
The five Maryland players — Young, Don Curry, Hakeem Hart, Donta Scott and Julian Reese — scored at least 10 points. It was a vastly improved attacking display for a team that had gotten pretty cold hitting the ball in recent competitions.
Maryland’s last two games have been nothing short of ugly on the offensive end, especially in the beginning. The Terps scored 13 points in the first half at Michigan and 17 in the first 20 minutes at Rutgers, putting themselves in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
The start of Sunday’s game was quite the opposite, with both teams reaching double figures in just over five minutes, with five of their first six field goals coming from three-point range. It took less than seven and a half minutes before the Terps topped their 17-point first-half performance last Thursday.
“We’re just trying to stay discreet,” Young said. “We’re great players so they’re going to drop. Just trying to take it right. You know, just step in and shoot with confidence. I’ll miss some, I’ll make some, but, you know, the best players in the world miss shots. It’s about the next stage that takes him.”
The intensity with which Maryland came out was reminiscent of that from their 8-0 start through the season, putting heavy pressure on the defensive end and pressing an entire field after making baskets. It wasn’t sloppy either, because the Terps didn’t commit a turnover for more than 10 minutes.
“In the last two games, we’ve had difficulty scoring the ball, which affects our ability to press,” Young said. “Today, being able to score the ball in the first half allows us to press and really go after them.”
With the halving down, Maryland has fallen back into some bad old habits. He got completely cold from the field, and he missed 15 of his last 16 snaps in that span. The turnovers also began to pile up, with the Terps committing seven by the end of the inning.
The Terps had opportunities to build a commanding lead in the middle part of the first half, but they were not taken advantage of. The Buckeyes were cut short, losing young forward Zed Key, their leader in rebounding by about three times per game. He was ruled out prior to a tip-off due to a shoulder injury he suffered in Ohio State’s narrow defeat to No. 1 Purdue on Thursday, contributing 14 to the Terps’ victory over the Buckeyes.
“We missed his fitness. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said of Ky.
Reese, who had plenty of opportunities with Ohio State’s MVP missing, didn’t provide the finishing touches, but he still managed to break into double figures with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, adding eight rebounds.
Like the Terps, the Buckeyes weren’t particularly dominant on the offensive end, but they took a 39-34 lead and great momentum going into the halftime break on the back of their shooting 6-of-11 from three.
Without Young’s play, the Terps would not have come close going into the second half. He led Maryland in both points (13) and rebounds (8) going into the break, and reached the free throw line eight times to keep points coming at a slow but steady rate when no shots fell.
“I felt Jahmir early in the game especially, even when he was missing shots, I thought he was aggressive,” said Maryland coach Kevin Willard. “Like, just staying stubborn after the ball, getting offensive rebounds, and fouling. I thought that gave us a big jump.”
As cold as they were at the end of the first half, the Terps came out just as hot to start the second half. Their pressure forced four consecutive Buckeye turnovers and led to a string of baskets made, racing to a seven-point lead with a 12-0 lead.
“When going out we just had to make sure we were focused on [deflecting passes]”You’re trying to get the property, you’re trying to speed it up and deliver it,” Young said. “So we did that and we were able to get good shots in return.”
Maryland was rolling offensively, extending its lead to 14, but couldn’t put away a resilient Ohio State team. After Reese was assessed a technical foul for taunting a Buckeyes player after a layup—the fourth technical foul the officials made on Sunday—Ohio State went on a run, cutting the lead to three.
Freshman Bryce Sensabaugh led the offense for the Buckeyes, finishing with 22 points to lead his team. Sensabaugh is the best freshman in the conference and has established himself as one of the best first year players in the country. When asked about his plan to defend Sensabaugh the day before the game, Willard joked that the best part about the top Big Ten freshmen was that “they won’t be around next year.”
Redshirt forward Justice Swing was the second-leading scorer for Ohio State, just behind Sensabaugh with 21 points.
Maryland refused to let Ohio State run back, though, and Sensabaugh fouled, effectively sealing the Terps’ win.
“We were on the road in Wisconsin, in Michigan, at Rutgers, three really tough places to play. … It was good to be home. I think these guys felt so good sleeping in their bed, not traveling. It’s good,” Willard said. We have a home game.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland didn’t start out slow. In its past few losses, Maryland has doomed itself from the start with an ineffective offense that has allowed opponents to fold. While the Terps certainly went through a slump in shooting and struggled with putting the ball in the basket at times, their ability to keep up with the Buckeyes off the jump was key.
2. Jahmir Young put the team on his back. Young has been a consistent presence for Maryland at point guard this season and was the MVP of two Big Ten wins. Young scored 24 points, including a 3-pointer, in the Terps’ win over Illinois and topped that off with a game-high 30 points against the Buckeyes. He became the first Maryland guard to have 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Grieves Vasquez did so against North Carolina on February 21, 2009.
3. THE TERPS BACK ON TRACK AT HOME. Maryland’s season looked like it might take a quick turn for the worse after two straight ugly losses, but it got the job done against a top-ranked Ohio State team to get back on track. Then, after a week off, the Terps would travel to play Iowa State to begin a grueling stretch of six conference games in 16 days.