COLUMBUS, OHIO — A last-second win Sunday over Northwestern at Xfinity Center might have helped the No. 16 Maryland men's basketball team's national ranking, its spot in the Big Ten Conference standings and, maybe, its wavering confidence.
It did little to hide the deficiencies of the Terps, who again struggled to come out with any kind of offensive rhythm or play with sustained defensive intensity in an embarrassing 80-56 loss to Ohio State at Value City Arena Thursday night.
It was the team's second straight road blowout, following a 19-point loss at No. 22 Indiana on Jan. 22. The Terps (18-4, 6-3 Big Ten) don't play again until Wednesday, when they face Penn State at home.
Just as it did in College Park on Sunday, Maryland fell behind by double digits midway through the first half, cut its deficit before halftime and came out slowly in the second half. Then the blowout was on.
Maryland also threatened to give Mark Turgeon his worst loss in four years as the Terps coach. In 2011, Maryland lost to Iona by 26. But with the Terps trailing by 27 on their last possession, freshman Jared Nickens hit a 3-pointer.
"The first half, they were great defensively. The second half, they were great offensively," Turgeon said of the Buckeyes (17-5, 6-3), who held the Terps to 30.5 percent shooting. "They shared the ball well, made shots, and for some reason, we weren't just very good tonight.
"We didn't have it. We didn't have it all night. Never got going. I'll take the blame for that. We weren't tough enough tonight. We didn't make shots. It kind of affected our whole game."
Coming off a 27-point performance against Northwestern, freshman point guard Melo Trimble typified Maryland's lackluster effort. He finished with a season-low three points, and missed all of his eight field goals.
His more experienced teammates weren't much better.
After a brief flurry to get the Terps back in the game following another sluggish start, senior guard Dez Wells missed seven of his last eight shots in a 4-for-14, 12-point performance. Junior forward Jake Layman missed his first six shots, finishing 4-for-12 for 10 points.
Wells wouldn't put the blame on Trimble.
“I'm not sure [what happened], but he's going to be better,” Wells said of Trimble. “He'll be a lot better the next game. He'll be a lot more aggressive the next game.”
Conversely, Ohio State freshman guard D'Angelo Russell lived up to the hype. Russell scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half — including back-to-back 3-pointers, one of which he converted into a four-point play after a foul by Trimble — to go along with 14 rebounds and six assists.
“He did a lot a good things for their [team]. He rebounded really well. He played a really good game, as expected,” Wells said. “We weren't trying to come into the game trying to shut him down. We were trying to make the shots tougher for him and keep the other guys at bay. We didn't do a good job of that.”
Sophomore forward Marc Loving, who came into the game as the Big Ten's leading 3-point shooter, made all five of his 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 19 points. As a team, Ohio State shot 26-for-60 overall and 10-for-17 from beyond the arc.
After the Terps had trimmed a 13-point deficit to five, a 3-pointer by Loving put the Buckeyes ahead by eight, 34-26, at halftime. Things got away quickly from Maryland to start the second half, as Ohio State pounded the ball inside and started hitting again from long range.
A year after getting blown out here — the Terps trailed by as much as 25 in the second half and lost by 16 — they expected a different ending. Yet with a much different cast in a much different type of season, the result was even worse and maybe just as disconcerting.
"We've got to start games and halves better," senior forward Evan Smotrycz said. "We can't dig ourselves a hole. … It kind of felt like we didn't have enough energy. Obviously, that showed. Everyone's good enough in the Big Ten where if you don't come to play off the bat, you can get blown out."
Asked whether there's a sense of urgency in making sure the strong start to the season doesn't slip away, Smotrycz said: "We're 6-3 [in the league]. The Big Ten's a great conference; we're not going to be blowing teams out every night. It's never very easy. We're embarrassed, so we'll get back to work."
It helps the Terps that they have their first bye weekend of the season and play the Nittany Lions twice in the next four games, along with a road game at Iowa and a home game against Indiana.
Turgeon's team had won games earlier this season shooting as poorly as it did against the Buckeyes. One difference was the fact that the Terps, who have been one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten this season, were outrebounded by one of the worst 51-32.
"We weren't very tough tonight. They were tougher than we were," Turgeon said. "I don't know if I ever had a team outrebounded like that. I doubt it. … You've got to give them credit. Ohio State's got a heck of a team, and they're starting to play. We just weren't very good tonight. I hope it's an aberration."