The Ohio State University Men’s Basketball squad did not lose a step after their stunning upset of the *ichigan State on Sunday-past or the hangover effect that often trail such celebrations.
Yesterday (Thursday – the 11th) in Columbus the Maryland Terrapins were next against the Buckeyes … they were the mat following the high that the Buckeyes clearly on.
For the first 10 minutes Thursday night, Ohio State looked as if it might have an emotional hangover following the win Sunday against the # 1 team in the nation; then came the 3-pointers … seventeen in all.
The Buckeyes battled back from a seven-point deficit, took a two-point lead on a Jae’Sean Tate dunk with 7:25 left in the first half and cruised to 91-69 rout of Maryland to remain unbeaten in the Big Ten.
Let’s repeat that – “Undefeated in the Big Ten!
“I thought they were way more physical and tougher than we were in the first 10 minutes, but our guys responded.” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
Keita Bates-Diop continued his scorching streak with 26 points for Ohio State (14-4, 5-0 Big Ten), hitting 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc. He scored 27 against Iowa on Jan. 4 and followed that with a 32-point performance against *ichigan State that earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
C.J. Jackson scored 14 and Tate added 13. Bates-Diop also had eight rebounds. Tate and C.J. Jackson each had six assists, and Kam Williams had five.
“We’ve got a group of unselfish guys,” Tate said. “We were able to find shooters, and luckily today nobody could miss.”
Anthony Cekovsky, who stands 7-foot-1, used his height advantage inside to lead the Terrapins with 18 points.
Maryland has suffered some hard luck, losing its two lead power forwards and a key reserve — accounting for about 19 points per game — to season-ending injuries the past two weeks. Some of the remaining players were hit by illness.
“We don’t have a lot of depth,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re starting guys that should be bench guys, and we’re playing guys that shouldn’t be playing right now. But that’s where we are, and we’ve got to get better. “We’re an absolute mess right now.”
The Buckeyes led 44-32 at the half on the strength of a 22-2 run – including a trio of 3-pointers from Andrew Dakich and a pair from Bates-Diop.
“I’m not a high-volume shooter, so just to knock those down was great,” said Dakich, a graduate transfer from *ichigan who had a career-high 11 points. “Just to kind of give them a boost with that 12-point lead going into the second half.”
Keita Bates-Diop is having a breakout season. He is getting help too from good talent around him … but he, right now is the Buckeyes Jordan, all the rest are players (good ones) who step it up to a better realm
The 17 3-pointers were the second most in Ohio State history, but Holtmann did his best to lower expectations.
“I don’t think we can ever expect to make 17 threes in a game,” he said. “I think that’s unrealistic. We made some shots tonight that on an average night that we’re probably not going to make. Our guys did a great job sharing the ball. But I don’t think we can expect these offensive numbers.”
Ohio State has a lot of season left but so far has exceeded expectations tremendously.
The roster was thin in the summer when Holtmann replaced 13-year coach Thad Matta, and the Buckeyes were expected to limp through a disappointing season.
They’ve won four straight and nine of the last 10.
“We were picked to be one of the last teams in the Big Ten,” Tate said. “No matter if we are 5-0 (in the conference), we’re going to continue to play with that chip on our shoulder. I think that’s really been a key to our success.”
Rutgers – in NJ, Sunday night.
At Rutgers on Sunday night. I’ll be watching, how about you?