COLLEGE PARK — In what has been a month of offensive futility, costly turnovers and blowout losses, Maryland men’s basketball looked like a runaway train in need of a conductor to prevent it from falling off the tracks and landing into mediocrity.
On Sunday afternoon against No. 24 Ohio State, graduate transfer guard Jahmir Young showed he could be the leader that can keep this team afloat. Young had 30 points and 11 rebounds to lead Maryland men’s basketball to an 80-73 win over the Buckeyes at the Xfinity Center.
He recorded the first 30-point, 10-rebound game by a Terps guard since Greivis Vasquez had a triple-double with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against North Carolina on Feb. 21, 2009. Young’s points total tied a career-high and the double-double the seventh of his career. The victory ends the Terps’ five-game losing streak to Power Five opponents.
Young was on a mission from the moment the ball was tipped. The Upper Marlboro native relentlessly attacked the basket. He didn’t let his 6-foot-1 frame be used as a disadvantage, as he constantly overpowered players for rebounds. With his aggressiveness, he made the free throw line his second home, going 13-for-15.
With Maryland (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) holding on to a late four-point lead, Young didn’t want his career day spoiled in the final minutes. He dribbled to the rim for a layup that extended the Terps’ advantage to 74-68 with 1:16 left.
“[I was] just trying to do anything to win,” Young said. “My teammates believed in me, [and] coming back on the home court felt great.”
After Maryland’s inspiring 8-0 start, wins have been hard to come by. The Terps lost five of their past seven games heading into Sunday’s Big Ten Conference matchup, including two straight losses to Michigan and Rutgers in which they combined to score 96 points.
Each defeat showed glaring concerns — a lack of size, poor ball control and inconsistent 3-point shooting. After Maryland’s 38-point loss to Michigan on New Year’s Day, first-year coach Kevin Willard knew his team needed an alpha who can take over games and rally the team whenever it falls into large deficits.
On Sunday, Willard might have found what he was looking for.
“I thought Jahmir was aggressive,” Willard said. “He was tenacious, [going] after the ball, getting offensive rebounds and getting fouled. Even though he missed a couple of shots early, I thought he stayed after it. His energy was the difference.”
Young’s performance was a part of an offensive revelation for Maryland. Five Terps scored in double figures as senior guard Hakim Hart had 12 points, Scott added 12 and sophomore Julian Reese and graduate transfer Don Carey each posted 10. Young was 8-for-18 from the floor, and his five offensive rebounds were a game high.
Maryland appeared to have solved its first-half shooting woes — at least for a day. It opened the game 9-for-13 from the floor. Led by Young, who had 13 points and eight rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, Maryland led by as many as seven points. After Scott went 0-for-9 from deep in the previous three games, he nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to give Maryland a 23-16 advantage with 11:16 left in the first half.
The Terps, however, made just one of their last 16 shot attempts to close the first half as Ohio State (10-5, 2-2 Big Ten) stormed back behind Justice Sueing (21 points) and Brice Sensabaugh (22 points) to take a 39-34 lead at halftime.
Maryland’s offense came back to life right after the break as it went on a 14-0 run over the first six minutes. Scott and Carey converted back-to-back 3-pointers before Young cut to the basket for a contested layup that gave Maryland a 48-39 advantage. The Terps forced four turnovers during that stretch, which allowed them to get out in transition.
“That was huge,” Young said. “We [made] an emphasis on trying to get them [turn the ball over]. We did that and were able to get good shots in return.”
With Ohio State forward Zed Key out with a shoulder injury, Maryland continually attacked the basket, scoring 12 straight points in the paint to stretch its lead to 60-46 with 9:41 to go.
Led by Sensabaugh and Sueing, Ohio State managed to go on a 13-2 run to cut Maryland’s lead to three with 6:15 remaining, but that was the closest the Buckeyes would get in the final minutes.
Young scored seven points in the last five minutes, including a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to solidify the win and tie his career high in points.
“It’s always good to have a really good point guard on the floor,” Scott said. “Not [only] to score but defend, too.”
Willard always thought Young had that alpha in him, but getting the Charlotte transfer to believe that has been a process. Young has never faced this type of competition consistently, and Willard has been trying to remind the point guard that struggles are inevitable.
“I keep telling Jahmir that you have never gone through the grind [of Big Ten play] before,” Willard said. “I think he’s starting to understand the concept.”
It remains to be seen whether Young will fully embrace the alpha role or Sunday was just a part-time gig. Willard, on the other hand, thinks Young has yet to unlock his full potential.
“I think he’s got more to him,” Willard said.
Maryland at Iowa
Sunday, 2:15 p.m. or 4 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 105.7 FM