Fresh off a win against Northwestern on Sunday to complete a 10-0 home conference record, Maryland will look to sprinkle some of that magic on the road when the No. 21 Terrapins play Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday.
The Terrapins (20-9, 11-7 Big Ten) are the second team in history to go 10-0 in Big Ten home games, joining Purdue (2018-19).
“That’s pretty impressive for this group,” first-year Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “It just shows how great this program is, how great this fan base is. I think the fan base really got behind this group. I think they appreciated how hard they worked, how hard they played.
“(The players) have taken ownership of the team. I think they’ve all bought into each other and that’s where they’ve grown the most. They all know what they do well, they all trust each other a lot. They understand my system now, so they don’t think about that anymore. They’ve taken their own ownership and I think that’s why we have 11 conference wins.”
Maryland’s lone conference road win in eight games was Feb. 4 against Minnesota (81-46). They subsequently lost at Michigan State and Nebraska.
After playing Ohio State, the Terrapins end the regular season at Penn State on Sunday.
“Man, we’ve been close. I thought we’ve played pretty good on the road, we just haven’t closed on the road,” Willard said. “We had a chance to win at Purdue, had a chance to win at Wisconsin, had a chance to win at Nebraska. It’s hard to win on the road in this conference. I mean, it’s hard.
“You have to do a much better job on the road of grinding it out a little bit, slowing it down. And again, when we slow it down, it kind of … that’s really not how we’re made.”
Ohio State (12-17, 4-14) was happy to win anywhere on Sunday. It happened to be at home against Illinois, with the 72-60 victory snapping a nine-game losing streak. The Buckeyes had lost 14 of the previous 15 games.
They held just a 57-52 lead with 5:53 left but unlike many games during the run of losses, the Buckeyes not only held the lead but increased it to make sure there was no Illinois comeback.
“It shows the progression we’ve made,” Ohio State forward Justice Sueing said. “Even though it’s been a rough stretch, that’s one of the things we’ve been focused on, making sure we stay composed. It was shown through the last few games and we finally pulled it out, getting over that hump. The guys staying composed and sticking to the game plan and knowing we’ve got it.”
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was relieved that his players were able to celebrate a win again.
“We really did feel like we were playing better basketball, (just) not always necessarily being rewarded necessarily for it,” he said. “That’s what we’ve stressed: play the right way, play it for longer stretches. We have been doing that.”
–Field Level Media