No. 17 Maryland puts streak on line at Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 17 Maryland travels to Ohio State for a Big Ten game on Tuesday night matching two teams going in opposite directions.
Maryland (19-2, 7-1) is tied for the Big Ten lead with Wisconsin as it reaches the midpoint of the conference schedule. The Terrapins have won six in a row since their only Big Ten loss at home to Nebraska and 12 of their last 13.
Ohio State (13-9, 3-6) is struggling through one of its worst seasons in 13 years under coach Thad Matta. The Buckeyes are next to last in the Big Ten standings and are coming off a bad 85-72 loss on Saturday night at Iowa, which played without injured star Peter Jok, the Big Ten's leading scorer.
Meanwhile, Maryland won its fourth straight Big Ten road game on Saturday, coming away from Minnesota with an 85-78 victory fueled by freshman Justin Jackson's career-high 28 points that included 5-of-5 3-point shooting and 10 rebounds.
"We're just trying to win the next game, that's really what we're doing," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "I've been around a lot of teams. This team just stays so focused on the task at hand. If we can just maintain that, none of the other stuff really matters."
The Terrapins are 5-0 on the road this season and off to their best overall start in program history since the 1998-99 team had the same record through 21 games.
They're the only Big Ten team without a road loss in conference play, and so playing in Value City Arena shouldn't be a big deal for these road warriors.
The two teams last met there exactly one year ago in Columbus with Maryland winning 66-61 on Jan. 31, 2016, when Melo Trimble scored 20 points.
Turgeon has found success this season by keeping the team relaxed away from home.
"We're in the middle of five out of seven on the road," Turgeon said. "You better be together and you better have fun while you're doing it."
Nothing is more fun than winning and Maryland is having success thanks to Trimble, who was named to the final 10 for the Bob Cousy Award on Monday, and a talented trio of freshmen. Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan Jr. have combined for 35.6 points, 8.4 assists and 15.6 rebounds in Maryland's five road wins.
"We don't call them freshmen, we call them young guys," Turgeon said. "They're good players. They don't think about the stage. They're just playing basketball."
Trimble is still the leader as the point guard, averaging 17.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
"I think Trimble is one of the best guards in college basketball in all that he does," Matta said.
After Ohio State started the Big Ten schedule with four straight losses, it appeared to be turning the ship around, winning three of its next four before hitting the wall at Iowa.
But the Buckeyes' roller-coaster efforts have typified their season so far. Matta knows Ohio State will have to play better than it did Saturday night to hang with red-hot Maryland.
The Buckeyes have five players scoring in double figures, led by Jae'Sean Tate at 14.0 points per game. Trevor Thompson is close to averaging a double-double (10.5 points, 9.3 rebounds).
"We have to play our best basketball (Tuesday) night," Matta said. "To quote (former Ohio State football coach) Jim Tressel a few years ago, we have to be better than we are."
Updated January 30, 2017