By Emily Olsen
With 12:30 left in the second half, guard Varun Ram made an off-ball run to the right side of the court.
Seconds later, senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon dribbled toward the basket, but instead of taking the shot, he dished a ball out to the waiting Ram. The 5’ 9” redshirt senior took a leap of faith in front of the sold out Xfinity Center and sunk a three-point jumper, putting Maryland up 72-35 over Ohio State.
“He’s another spark off the bench. He’s like the energizer bunny,” Sulaimon said. “His energy is infectious.”
Ram went 1 for 4 from the field. Though his three-pointer was far from game winning, Ram shot proved something more Saturday afternoon. It proved that, for the first time in three games, the Terps were having fun.
After two close road games, Maryland blew out Ohio State 100-65 Saturday afternoon.
“I felt like we were holding on at Michigan and Wisconsin,” coach Mark Turgeon said after Saturday’s victory. “We said today ‘we’re going to compete, we’re going to do it together, and we’re kids and [we] love basketball, and were going to have fun.’ That’s what we did. Hopefully we can sustain that.”
For the first time in three years, the Terps scored 100 points in regulation on Saturday. Forward Robert Carter Jr. and Sulaimon scored a combined 47 points to contribute to the win. Carter shot 76 percent from the field, including all four three-point shots that he took. Coach Turgeon commented on Carter’s work ethic after the game.
“Robert [Carter] works so hard. I walked in here at eight o’clock this morning and Robert was already in a full sweat,” coach Turgeon said. “Only one in the gym. It’s great for him to make shots because he works so hard at making shots.”
Carter said he was in the gym by 6:30 Saturday morning.
“I love this game a lot, and it’s just a joy to play at this level,” Carter said.
Although Maryland dominated both halves of the game, including a season-high 48-point first half, Ohio State was able to force several early turnovers.
Guard Melo Trimble was also limited in the first half. The sophomore made his first basket in the second half of Saturday’s game – his first points since the Michigan game Tuesday.
“I guess the first couple minutes I thought of the last game [against Michigan],” Trimble said. “It’s about knowing who’s hot and who’s not. Tonight wasn’t my night to score a lot of points.”
Despite Trimble’s lack of production, Maryland was able to spread out its offense more and use several shooting threats in the win over the Buckeyes.
In addition, Maryland’s defense played a huge roll in Saturday’s win. The Terps held Ohio State without a basket for the first five minutes of the second half.
“We locked in. We have all of the talent and all of the pieces necessary to be a great defensive team. It’s just about will,” Sulaimon said. “It’s just about being consistent at this point.”
A key factor in the Terps’ defense is Ram. He normally comes off the bench for a few minutes, but the guard has seen more playing time in the last two games.
“I don’t think they [other players] really notice how good of a defensive player he is until they are out there with him,” Trimble said. “I always want Varun [Ram] to score because he plays great defense, and when you play great defense you’re supposed to be rewarded on offense. He was rewarded.”
Despite their No. 3 ranking in the AP Poll, the Terps have faced scrutiny about their ability to win games late in the season and in conference play.
Saturday’s convincing 100-63 win over Ohio State was Maryland’s way of showing they can win rather than saying it, according to Carter.
“I think there will always be questions, and all we can do is come out and play the best we can play,” Carter said. “We don’t need to go out and tell everybody how good we are because actions are better than words.”