Okpara, Ohio State outpace No. 21 Maryland 73-62
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Felix Okpara had 12 points and 12 rebounds to help Ohio State finish its home schedule with a 73-62 win over No. 21 Maryland on Wednesday night.
Ohio State jumped ahead after Maryland led 4-2 in the opening two minutes thanks to a 12-0 run, and the Buckeyes didn’t give up their lead the rest of the way.
Maryland faced a 15-point deficit with less than four minutes remaining, then Don Carey went on an 8-0 run to pull the Terrapins within 67-60 with 1:34 left.
Ohio State (13-17, 5-14 Big Ten) went 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 70 seconds, and the Terrapins (20-10, 11-8) missed their final three shots as both teams went without a field goal in the last two-plus minutes of the game.
“For the last maybe week and a half, two weeks, I do feel like we’ve played better, so maybe across the board our confidence is higher as a group,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I just thought they had a look in their eye tonight.”
Halftime saw the Buckeyes lead 35-29 after keeping the Terrapins from coming closer than four points. Sean McNeil led all scorers with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.
Six players reached double figures for the Buckeyes. Justice Sueing tallied 16 points, Brice Sensabaugh had 12, Isaac Likekele added 11 and McNeil and Bruce Thornton had 10 apiece.
Julian Reese scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Carey added 14 for the Terrapins as Maryland shot 44% from the field.
“Tonight was a little frustrating just because I didn’t think we played well,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “We’ve played well on the road the last six games. We’ve given ourselves chances to win it or tie it, but give Chris and his staff credit. I thought played great.”
KNOCK IT DOWN AT THE LINE
Ohio State’s 20-of-20 clip at the free throw line is a new single-game program record for makes without a miss.
PATIENCE PAYING OFF
Okpara’s second career double-double boosted the Buckeyes across the board as he went 5-of-8 from the field and created extra opportunities with four offensive rebounds.
The 6-foot-11 freshman center also swatted away three blocks, and Okpara put an exclamation point on his game by completing an alley-oop dunk following an assist from Sensabaugh with about six minutes to go in the second half.
“We’ve been saying, ‘OK, we’re starting to see this with Felix,’” Holtmann said. “What he can be, it’s pretty impressive, and tonight was just validation of that.”
McNeil, Likekele and Sueing were recognized during a pregame ceremony. All have spent at least five seasons playing college basketball.
Before snapping a nine-game losing streak against Illinois Sunday, Ohio State had lost 14 of 15 games.
The Buckeyes have won two straight, both coming at home.
“We had a lot of fun out there,” Sueing said. “Getting caught up in losing streaks you can kind of lose that feeling, kind of forget about it. So being able to not only have it the last game, but this game especially being our last here in the (Schottenstein Center) is something I’m going to always remember.”
Maryland: Maryland’s scoring defense, which averaged 62.8 points allowed per game and ranked third in the Big Ten entering the night, allowed its most points in the past five games. The Terrapins have lost their last six road contests.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes earned back-to-back wins for the first time since winning three in a row from December to January. It’s their second ranked win of the season.
Maryland: At Penn State on Sunday.
Ohio State: Travels to Michigan State Saturday.
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