Maryland basketball (22-4, 12-3 B1G) has been playing some of its best basketball over the past six weeks, leading to nine consecutive wins. During that span, the Terps ball security and execution in the half-court offense has improved immensely.
Maintaining similar efficiency in the half-court offense will be pivotal against No. 25 Ohio State, who has been playing much better basketball as of late. For the Terps, In addition to building on its offensive efficiency, locking in defensively for all 40 minutes will be pivotal as well.
In the final eight minutes of Tuesday’s victory over Northwestern, Maryland ran some of their best half-court sets of the season. Spacing the floor well and passing effectively, the Terps took care of the ball in some of the most important sequences of the game. The five turnovers against the Wildcats was a season low and an encouraging sign in the Terps continued offensive growth over the past several weeks.
“We took really good shots, we didn’t have many bad possessions the last eight minutes of that game,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “Just an understanding, with the turnovers, understanding where we need to be.”
Ohio State (17-9, 7-8 B1G) has won five of its last seven games and guard D.J Carton could return for Sunday’s matchup. Carton is the team’s third leading scorer and one of the leading orchestrators of the Buckeyes’ offense.
In their meeting, Jan. 7 in College Park, Carton scored 14 points. While Carton is the Buckeyes leader in the backcourt, Kaleb Wesson is Ohio State’s tone setter and leading scorer down low. Wesson scored 15 points in the first meeting, while his brother Andre contributed 14 points as well.
The Wesson brothers and Carton combined for 43 of the Buckeyes 55 points in their 67-55 loss at the Xfinity Center. Similar to Jalen Smith, Wesson has showcased the ability to attack opponents in the post, but also step outside for perimeter jumpers as well.
Three-point shooting is a strength for the Buckeyes’ offense, which enters Sunday’s game shooting 37.8% from behind the arc, the highest clip in the conference. Four of the five Buckeyes starters shoot 39 percent or better from long range. Therefore, rotating out to shooters and contesting perimeter jumpers will be a point of emphasis for Maryland.
“[Ohio State] is hard to guard. They’ve got the big fella in the middle, they play inside out,” Turgeon said. “They shoot it well, they make tough shots at home, so we have to keep grinding and keep guarding.”
Complementing their talented trio offensively, the Buckeyes are also one of the best defensive teams in the conference. At home in conference play, Ohio State is holding opponents to an average of 61.3 points per game, feeding off the energy of the home crowd.
Limiting turnovers and locking in defensively on Sunday will give the Terps a good opportunity to pick up their tenth consecutive win and maintain their two-game lead on top of the conference standings.