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Okay! Okay! I apologize. In my preview for the Iowa game I suggested to sit, relax, and just watch some basketball last Saturday (Jan., 28th). It was by far not relaxing … and was it really basketball?
The Buckeyes had an opportunity. Peter Jok was out – meaning so was his 21.0 points per game. The Hawkeyes, as I initially saw it, were in a world of hurt. But they ended up with four players hitting in double-figures. The two most surprising was Brady Ellingson, guard, who normally scores an average per game of 5.1 – against the Scarlet and Gray he hit for 17; there was also Ryan Kriener, forward, he’s normally good for an average per game of 4.5 – but against The Ohio State University, he was good for 14.
There was a positive for the Buckeyes. In my mind that was Kam Williams. In 37-minutes of play he hit for 14 points, was 3-7 in the 3-pointers, along with 4 assists. Kam had a solid game. Jae’Sean, too, had a solid game. Jae’Sean, in 30 minutes delivered 17 points and 7 rebounds. We have come to expect Jae’Sean and his hustle. The rest of the team had their head elsewhere.
Was it on Maryland?
Perhaps! Maryland is no slouch. They will be coming to Columbus as the 17th nationally ranked team in the country – and 1st in the Big Ten. Tip-off is 7:00 p.m., televised on ESPN in Value City Arena.
The Terrapins are 19-2 overall and 7-1 in conference. As I mentioned they are 17th nationally in the rankings. With only two losses, one would imagine they should be higher than where they are slotted. But the voters understand the parameters of placement. There are seven teams in the national rankings with four losses, higher on the ladder than Maryland; Louisville, WVA, KY, VA, NC, FL State, and Butler. There is also three teams with three losses higher up than Maryland; Wisconsin, UCLA, and Oregon. Do I need to explain that? The Terrapins have been on a 6-0 run since the first of the year when they lost to Nebraska 67-65. But in their wake was TTUN a 4-5 in conference, 14-8 overall team; Indiana also a 4-5 in conference, 14-8 overall team; Illinois a 3-6 in conference & 13-9 overall team; Iowa a 4-5 in conference, & 12-10 overall team; Rutgers is at 1-8 in conference & 12-10 overall and finally Minnesota, 3-6 in conference and 15-7 overall. My point here is any of these wins equivalent to in conference victories of Louisville, WVA, KY, VA, NC, FL St, Butler, Wisconsin, UCLA & Oregon? Hardly! The Terrapins schedule has been laced with the likes of Stony Brook, Towson, Howard, and Jacksonville State. Their 1st loss of the season was against Pittsburgh back in November in a substantial showing, 73-59. Pittsburgh is dead last in the ACC (15th). They are 1-7 in conference and 12-9 overall. I am not attempting to demoralize Maryland – but what I am doing is coming to a understanding why a 19-2 team is 17th in the Nation. This is why…..
The Terrapins are led by Melo Trimble in scoring with a 17.1 ppg. Justin Jackson, a 6-7 freshman forward leads them in rebounding with an average of 6.0 per game. Anthony Cowan leads them in assists with 3.6 per game. They have three players who score in double figures: Trimble (17.1); Jackson (11.0) & Cowan (10.8). The one Terrapin I have enjoyed watching is Kevin Huerter, a big 6-7 guard, who in an average of 28 minutes per game is putting up 8.7 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. These figures doesn’t break the eye-socket at first glance – but Kevin comes to play …. I hate to suggest this – but watch him Tuesday.
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY:
The Buckeyes are still led in scoring by Jae’Sean Tate (14.0), he’s also 2nd in rebounding with 6.3 per game. Trevor Thompson continues to rule the boards with a nice 9.2 snags per game. JaQuan Lyle leads with a 5.2 average per game in assists.
None of these names have changed on the leader’s board for the Buckeyes for quite some time. The Buckeyes also continue to have five players scoring in double figures. Jae’Sean Tate (14.0); JaQuan Lyle (12.3); Marc Loving (11.4); Trevor Thompson (10.5); and Kam Williams (10.3). But what does this all mean when they lose to a Jok-less Iowa team? Or to Illinois? Or in two – two point losses to Purdue & Northwestern – unable to muster a little extra wind to pull it out? Or the three-point loss to even UVA? How about that one to FAU?
The loss of Keita Bates-Diop was big. I haven’t read that assumption anywhere other than my own mind. It has been a difference maker. The Buckeyes without him are just a team of five double-figure scorers who cannot deliver in the final minutes. They must get it together or they won’t even make it to the NIT ….
Believe it or not the Buckeyes can win this one. Maryland is not the big and bad wolves they have been in the past. A 19-2 team should be more threatening than they are this year. I, personally am more intimidated against *ichigan State (who the Buckeyes delivered a loaded message to) & Iowa – who played out successfully my fears. I will simply conclude with a summary of how this one will end – the Buckeyes will win, or they will lose. It’s up to them.