Terps Succumb to Ohio State's Defense

Terps Succumb to Ohio State's Defense

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With less than five seconds left in the first half Wednesday night, Ohio State (7-0) point guard Aaron Craft picked the pocket of Maryland (5-3) guard Dez Wells. Craft lofted a pass ahead for his teammate Sam Thompson, who received the pass just under the rim and emphatically threw down a two-handed slam as time expired.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With less than five seconds left in the first half Wednesday night, Ohio State (7-0) point guard Aaron Craft picked the pocket of Maryland (5-3) guard Dez Wells. Craft lofted a pass ahead for his teammate Sam Thompson, who received the pass just under the rim and emphatically threw down a two-handed slam as time expired.

And that is pretty much how the game went as Maryland fell to Ohio State, 76-60, in its final ACC/Big Ten Challenge (as a member of the ACC) at the Schottenstein Center.

"That was the game, right before half," Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. "That was the game. We couldn't even get a shot up on the last possession. I could go on and on…"

Maryland struggled to get shots off, while Ohio State certainly did not have trouble putting points on the board. Junior LaQuinton Ross showed no signs of his early-season shooting slump as he went 4-for-4 from the perimeter in the first six minutes of the game. He added two steals and two jumpers to finish the first half with 17 points, yet he scored just three points in the second half (though those latter three came on a 3-point play to start the half, which seemed to spur the Buckeyes). However, Turgeon wasn't reading too much Ross' end-of-game numbers.

"[With LaQuinton Ross] we were much more aware of him [in the second half] than we were the first three possessions when he went boom, boom, boom," Turgeon said. "It is amazing, as a competitor, when a guy hits a shot, who you know is known as a shooter -- I know he hadn't shot well until the last game --but that you don't find him. It was disappointing."

Even more disappointing was Maryland's inability to take care of the ball. While the Terps had 14 turnovers, which is not horrendous, the Buckeyes capitalized off each one.

Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, who finished with 10 points, six dimes and five steals, lived up to his reputation as one of the best defensive players in the country.

Turgeon was asked if he felt his players were adequately prepared to handle Ohio State's pressure, to which he responded: "How did Dez [Wells] and Roddy [Peters] do? Well [OSU had] 28 points off of turnovers, so how do you think we handled it? It was 18 to zero at the half."

Maryland's pseudo point guard Wells, who led the team with 19 points -- all but two came in the second half -- reiterated Turgeon's sentiment, while adding in his own perspective. Ohio State not only presented a challenge on the court, it was also a hostile environment.

"Great teams can execute in the worst environments. This was pretty bad. It wasn't bad as Duke or Carolina, but it was a tough environment. No excuses our way," said Wells, who plans to hold a team meeting prior to the Terps' Sunday showdown against George Washington in the BB&T Classic. "They played well. They played good. We had too many turnovers in the first half and that is our Achilles' heel right now. Going forward, we have to cut down on those and we'll be a lot better."

Turnovers weren't the only problem for the Terps on Wednesday. There also appeared to be saran-wrap over the visitors' basket as Maryland struggled mightly from the floor. In the first half, the Terps went 1-of-8 from beyond the arc, and things got even worse in the second half as they hit ony one of their 10 3-pointers. Not even Maryland's most consistent performer, the sharp-shooting sophomore wing Jake Layman, could skirt the Buckeyes' pressure. Layman went just 1-for-9 on the night.

"We had a lot of guys who didn't play well… a lot of guys who didn't play well," Turgeon repeated. "Maybe it's them, maybe [OSU is] that good. We've played some pretty good teams -- Connecticut, we played Providence, who I think is a good team.

"We haven't played on the road yet, but when you look at the numbers we had a lot of guys who didn't play well. It wasn't just Jake. We just didn't compete when we needed to compete in the game."

With Wells struggling at point, Maryland replaced him with Varun Ram in the second half, as well as letting Peters get some run. Junior Evan Smotrycz was the Terps' main threat in the first half, scoring nine of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes, but he didn't always play well defensively. In fact, Charles Mitchell, who recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, started over Smotrycz in the second half.

Meanwhile, junior Nick Faust continued to struggle, shooting just 2-of-9 from the field, while starting sophomore big man Shaq Cleare managed just two points.

Maryland did make one second-half run to cut the deficit to less than 20 points, and Turgeon did acknowledge the increases intensity. But it was too little too late for the Terps against the No. 5 team in the country.

"We came out aggressive, we were going to the basket and getting fouled, we just didn't keep that up. They're a great team, they're top 5 for a reason," Wells said. "For us to get to that level, we have to execute in really tough environments."

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