Ohio State's Three-Point Success Upsets No. 7 Maryland
Ohio State took control with a late first-half burst built around its three-point shooting and held on down the stretch Sunday for its best Big Ten win of the season, an 79-72 upset of No. 7 Maryland.
Luther Muhammad's season-high 22 points, built off four three-point field goals, carried the Buckeyes to a seven-point halftime lead that doubled early in the second half before the Terrapins rallied in search of a 10th straight win.
OSU (18-8, 8-8) will attempt to get over .500 in the Big Ten for the first time this season in a 9 p.m. Thursday game at Nebraska.
Muhammad shot 8-of-8 at the free throw line to highlight the Buckeyes' 17-of-18 success from there in the second half.
Ohio State now owns four Top Ten wins this season, having beaten No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 North Carolina, No. 10 Villanova and now Maryland.
The Terps' ranking is the most legitimate, given that it comes after a nine-game winning streak fed their two-game lead in the Big Ten.
Kaleb Wesson scored 15 for OSU, with Duane Washington adding 13 and Andre Wesson and C.J. Walker 12 apiece.
Maryland (22-5, 12-4) cut what had been a 14-point, second half deficit to 58-52 on Anthony Cowan's two free throws with 6:34 remaining.
Andre Wesson blew a chance to offset that when he missed a drop-in under the basket, bouncing it off both sides of the rim.
Aaron Wiggins twisted the knife with a triple at the other end and OSU led by only three, but Kaleb Wesson dunked and Washington dropped two free throws for a 62-55 edge at the five-minute mark.
Cowan's layup with 3:54 left brought Maryland to 64-59.
OSU avoided trouble when Kaleb Wesson was not called for foul on the play as the two collided. Cowan, however, kicked at Wesson's head in frustration as the two lay out of bounds.
That resulted in an unsportsmanlike technical foul on Cowan, resulting in his expulsion via a fifth personal.
Washington hit both technical free throws for a 66-59 lead, but OSU turned it over on a bad pass that led to a Maryland layup on the accompanying possession.
Aaron Wiggins' three-pointer inside the two-minute mark drew his team within 68-64, but Washington's shot in the lane and Muhammad's two free throws warded off disaster.
Jalen Smith, who had scored and rebounded in double figures in each game of Maryland's nine-game winning streak, finished with eight points and seven boards.
Muhammad started the year a viable threat from long range, shooting over 40% on triples through OSU's first 12 games, but then endured a 4-of-30 drought that invited opponents to leave him open.
He started making that hurt four games ago, making half his 12 tries entering a Thursday game at Iowa.
Muhammad made only one-of-four there, however, and so Maryland probably thought it safe to let him fire.
That strategy blew up on the Terps when Muhammad made three-of-four in the first half and another early in the second to shove Ohio State in control.
OSU lost junior forward Kyle Young to a leg injury in a rebound scrum with 4:29 left in the first half. He went to the locker room and did not return.
Maryland's length made solid two-point looks rare, so OSU launched early and often and those long-range attempts paid dividends.
The Buckeyes hit eight triples in the first half to, at first, keep pace with Maryland then then sprint away to a seven-point halftime lead that Kaleb Wesson expanded with a three-pointer on OSU's first possession after play resumed.
The resultant 43-33 edge grew to 13 when Washington hit a triple the next trip down, then Smith missed inside under heavy pressure and Walker took the outlet coast-to-coast for a Euro-step layup and 47-33 margin.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon's timeout just two minutes into the second half called a halt to that and awoke his team from its offensive slumber, but OSU maintained its double-figure lead until Wiggins' three-pointer at 13:02 reduced the margin to 52-45.
Young's exit sparked a closing rally to the first half that allowed OSU to move from a 27-27 tie for a 40-33 advantage.
That damage, like just about everything the Buckeyes did through 20 minutes, hinted on their success from beyond the arc.
Kaleb Wesson's triple preceded a pair Muhammad trey's from the left wing, the latter of which at 2:10 built a 36-31 advantage.
Washington fed that momentum with two free throws and a nifty drive and left-hand finish to offset two Cowan free throws with the Terps hustling to get a two-for-one in the last 48 seconds.
That strategy didn't pay off when Wiggins missed a three-point look from the right wing just before the buzzer.
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