College Park — Already short-handed with season-ending injuries to forwards Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender, the Maryland men’s basketball team will face Ohio State on Thursday down another player.
Redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley has been ruled out with a concussion suffered early in the second half of Sunday’s 91-73 home victory against Iowa. There is no timetable for his return.
Though Terps coach Mark Turgeon said Wednesday that Wiley “is feeling a lot better,” he will not make the trip to Columbus, Ohio. That leaves Maryland with only eight healthy scholarship players.
“The bad thing is Dion probably played his best game of the year in the first half,” Turgeon said. “He was defending, he was making shots, he was making us harder to guard.”
Wiley was having one of his best performances in what has been an injury-riddled career, scoring 10 points in the first half, when he took a shot to the face going for a rebound.
After Maryland had started slowly against the Hawkeyes, Wiley replaced sophomore guard Kevin Huerter and hit his first four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help the Terps get back in the game.
Wiley then replaced freshman guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) in the opening minute of the second half after Morsell picked up his third personal foul.
Wiley was on the court for 11 seconds, went straight to the locker room and did not return.
Without Wiley, the Terps will have only one perimeter player to sub in — senior wing Jared Nickens — and will likely have to play more of a bigger lineup to use their height advantage inside with 7-foot-1 senior Michal Cekovsky and 6-10 freshman Bruno Fernando.
“Sean Obi will play, Josh Tomaic will play -- we’ll play the big lineup a little bit more probably,” Turgeon said. “But the road’s a different animal. We’ve got to figure out a way to stay out of foul trouble.”
Asked which end of the court the Terps need to focus on more with a shorter rotation, Huerter said playing sound, smart defense is more important than what the team can do offensively.
“We don’t really have an excuse no matter how many bodies drop, how good we can be defensively,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of talented guys that can do a lot offensively, but anyone we can bring off the bench, we know they can play defense. Especially going on the road, in hostile environments we’re going to play in, you’re not always going to make shots. You have to be really good defensively.”
Maryland (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) has to figure out a way to cool off the Buckeyes in general and redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop in particular.
Bates-Diop, who sat out the final 18 games last season with a stress fracture in his leg, scored a career-high 32 points in the win over Michigan State on Sunday. He is leading the Big Ten in scoring with 20 points a game, and is third in rebounding with 8.8 a game.
“He’s a load. He’s a big-time player,” Turgeon said.
Ohio State (13-4, 4-0) is coming off a shocking 80-64 demolition of No. 1 Michigan State at Value City Arena, three days after the Spartans crushed the Terps by 30 points in East Lansing.
“They’re tough to guard, they’ve got really good players. There’s a reason they’re winning games,” Turgeon said of Ohio State, the Big Ten’s biggest surprise.
Turgeon also said Jackson had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Bender, who tore the meniscus in his right knee two weeks ago, had surgery last week.
The concussion suffered by Wiley is the latest setback in a career that has never really taken off, largely because of injuries.
As a sophomore, Wiley tore his meniscus before the season and was out for the year. After getting a medical redshirt, Wiley’s performance last season was compromised by back problems.
Even this season, Wiley had not been 100 percent until recently because of an ankle he sprained in the preseason and a lingering illness that forced him to miss two games in December.
“He’s been really practicing well since the week before Christmas. I could see it coming,” Turgeon said. “It’s just another setback for him, which is disappointing. We need him.”
Huerter, who has joined fellow sophomore Anthony Cowan Jr. in emerging as a team leader on and off the court, said the Terps have become accustomed to playing short-handed.
“You've got five guys going in to play the game, five guys are all you need to play, however many we have, we know we have enough to throw five out there,” Huerter said.