Maryland Terrapins former head men's basketball coach Lefty Dreisell stands with his family, watching a banner unfurl, honoring him before the game between the Terrapins and Ohio State. (Video by Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff)
COLLEGE PARK — The number jumped off the stat sheet, perhaps the most impressive part of No. 21 Maryland's losing-streak busting 86-77 victory over Ohio State on Saturday at Xfinity Center.
Bench points: Maryland 33, Ohio State 0.
While the blanking of the Buckeyes bench was largely because of the absence of sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle, who missed the game because of a family emergency, the production of the Terps' reserves was still impressive.
Led by junior guard Jaylen Brantley and junior center Michal Cekovsky, Maryland built a 16-point lead in the first half and a 14-point halftime lead as the bench played a big part in the Terps' ending a two-game slide.
"The bottom line was our bench was terrific," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. "They didn't have a deep bench today, obviously, and we were able to wear 'em down a little bit because of it."
Except for when the bench scored 48 points against Division III St. Mary's on Nov. 17, it was the most points by Maryland's reserves this season. The most they had in a Big Ten game was 31 against Illinois on Dec. 27.
Brantley finished with 11 points in 20 minutes against the Buckeyes. Cekovsky didn't miss from the field (3-for-3, including back-to-back dunks) and had seven points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.
Redshirt sophomore forward Ivan Bender was active in 15 minutes with six points, three assists and two rebounds while being Maryland's "best post defender in the second half," according to Turgeon.
Senior forward L.G. Gill also scored six, while junior wing Jared Nickens added three.
The Terps had nine of their 10 players score in the first half.
A stretch of four possessions when Brantley had a steal-and-drive, then followed it up with back-to-back 3-pointers not only got the Terps going in the first half, but also helped boost Brantley's confidence, which admittedly had dropped lately.
"It just gave me a lot of confidence to shoot the ball," said Brantley, who had made just two of 11 3-pointers his last three games, including one of four in Tuesday's loss at Penn State. "My teammates were trying to find me so I could keep shooting, and they were telling me to shoot the ball every time I got it."
Brantley also had an impressive stretch in the second half in which he hit his third 3-pointer of the game and drove the lane and made a pass to Gill for a layup to build the lead back to 11 after the Buckeyes cut their deficit to six.
"L.G.'s going to be a big part of this team for the rest of the season and I feel if he gets a lot more confidence and more reps in the game, I just feel he'll play his natural position [at power forward] and the game he played at Duquesne last season," Brantley said of the graduate transfer.
Freshman guard Anthony Cowan, who led the Terps with 19 points, said that Turgeon is always harping about the importance of the bench.
"Coach Turgeon is always talking about how he likes the depth of our team," Cowan said. "I think Jaylen really came in and turned the game around. He gave us some good points, a lot of energy coming back...but that's been our team all year. It's not only the starting five that's supposed to get the job done, it's the whole team."
Turgeon was happy for all his bench players, particularly Brantley, whose productivity was cut short when he got kneed in the thigh in the second half.
"Jaylen wasn't coming off his best game, and you could tell it was eating at him. He couldn't wait to play today," Turgeon said. "He made some big shots for us. He made a big steal for us and he made the layup. He did a lot of things great."