Source: USA TODAY
COLUMBUS, Ohio — LaQuinton Ross scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half, hitting his first four 3-pointers, to lead No. 3 Ohio State to an early lead and a 76-60 victory over Maryland on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Sam Thompson added 14 points, including four rim-rattling dunks, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 12. Aaron Craft created havoc on defense and chipped in with 10 points as the Buckeyes (7-0) controlled the game at both ends.
Ex-Xavier guard Dez Wells had 19 points, former Michigan swingman Evan Smotrycz scored 15 and Charles Mitchell added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland (5-3), which had won four in a row after losing two of its first three.
This is Maryland’s last ACC/Big Ten Challenge — well, at least as an ACC team. Next year, the Terrapins join the Buckeyes in the new 14-team Big Ten.
Down by 17 at halftime, Maryland stayed within shouting range of the Buckeyes for part of the second half before Ohio State pulled away behind a 9-0 burst that pushed the lead to 70-45 with just over 6 minutes left.
The Terrapins have lost their last 13 road games against ranked opponents, while Ohio State has won its last 73 home games against unranked teams.
Both teams were coming off their best offensive games of the season. Maryland shot 62 percent from the field and had a season-best 26 assists, including six from freshman Roddy Peters, in an 89-62 win over Morgan State on Friday. The Buckeyes shot 69 percent — sixth-best in school history — in a 99-64 win over North Florida on Saturday.
Continuing that strong shooting, the Buckeyes made 60 percent of their shots from the field in the opening half Wednesday while building a 43-26 lead.
When they needed a bucket, they got it. When the Terrapins strung together a couple of baskets, the Buckeyes responded defensively and slammed the door.
Ross was the difference early, making those first four shots from behind the arc. After Maryland became more aware of him on the perimeter, Thompson scored on two high-flying, alley-oop dunks that shook the arena.
Behind Ross’ 12 points, the Buckeyes broke out to an 18-9 lead.
The Terrapins regrouped to trade baskets and pull to 27-20 before Thompson had five points and Ross the other three in an 8-0 run.
Hanging onto a 35-26 lead heading into the final 90 seconds of the half, Ohio State ran off eight more points in a row.
Craft, who had three steals and three assists in the opening 20 minutes, stole the ball in a scrum and passed out of it while on the floor in the final seconds. Thompson got the ball, spun in the lane on a breakaway and then banked in a layup just as the buzzer sounded.
The Buckeyes improved to 7-6 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They had won four in a row until blowing a big first-half lead to lose at No. 2 Duke 73-68 a year ago.
It was the first meeting between the teams since 1985. Ohio State is 4-2 in the series, winning four of the last five.
Maryland came in with 10 wins in the Challenge, including winning four of five on the road. The Terrapins won at Northwestern a year ago.
The crowd booed loud and long early in the second half when during a “celebrity look-a-likes” fan-cam segment, an Ohio State booster was shown who looked a lot like the football coach at archrival Michigan, Brady Hoke.
The Buckeyes football team plays Michigan State for the Big Ten title on Saturday.