COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first 10 minutes or so of Thursday’s game, Ohio State looked as if it might have an emotional hangover from last weekend’s monumental upset of then-No. 1 Michigan State. But then the 3-pointers started going in.
Ohio State (14-4, 5-0 Big Ten) battled back from a seven-point deficit, took a 24-22 lead with a Jae’Sean Tate dunk with 7:25 left in the first half and cruised to 91-69 rout of Maryland to remain unbeaten in the Big Ten.
“I thought they were way more physical and tougher than we were in the first 10 minutes, but our guys responded.” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
Keita Bates-Diop continued his torrid streak with 26 points for Ohio State, hitting 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc. He had scored 27 against Iowa on Jan. 4, and followed with a 32-point performance against Michigan State on Sunday that earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
C.J. Jackson scored 14, and Tate added 13. Bates-Diop also had eight rebounds. Tate and C.J. Jackson each had six assists, and Kam Williams had five.
“We’ve got a group of unselfish guys,” Tate said. “We were able to find shooters, and luckily today nobody could miss.”
Michal Cekovsky at 7-foot-1 used his height advantage inside to lead the Terrapins with 18 points.
Maryland has suffered some misfortune, losing its two lead power forwards and a key reserve — accounting for about 19 points per game — to season-ending injuries in the past two weeks. Some of the remaining players were hit by illness.
“We don’t have a lot of depth,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re starting guys that should be bench guys, and we’re playing guys that shouldn’t be playing right now. But that’s where we are, and we’ve got to get better.
“We’re an absolute mess right now,” he said.
The Buckeyes led 44-32 at the half on the strength of a 22-2 run that included a trio of 3-pointers from Andrew Dakich and a pair from Bates-Diop.
“I’m not a high-volume shooter, so just to knock those down was great,” said Dakich, a graduate transfer from Michigan who had a career-high 11 points. “Just to kind of give them a boost with that 12-point lead going into the second half.”
Maryland: Had won eight of the last nine entering the game but caught Ohio State on a hot streak. The Terps sorely missed their three forwards who are out with injuries.
“We’re just kind of like, well, we’ve got some guys hurt so we’re kind of feeling sorry for ourselves instead of competing the way we need to compete,” Turgeon said.
Ohio State: Bates-Diop is having a breakout season and getting lots of help from talented players around him.
The 17 3-pointers were the second-most in Ohio State history, but Holtmann did his best to lower expectations.
“I don’t think we can ever expect to make 17 3s in a game,” he said. “I think that’s unrealistic. We made some shots tonight that on an average night that we’re probably not going to make. Our guys did a great job sharing the ball. But I don’t think we can expect these offensive numbers.”
PLAYING WITH ATTITUDE
Ohio State has a lot of season left but so far has exceeded expectations by a long shot.
The roster was thin in the summer when Holtmann replaced 13-year coach Thad Matta, and the Buckeyes were expected to limp through a disappointing season.
They’ve now won four straight and nine of the last 10.
“We were picked to be one of the last teams in the Big Ten,” Tate said. “No matter if we are 5-0 (in the conference), we’re going to continue to play with that chip on our shoulder. I think that’s really been a key to our success.”
Maryland: At Michigan on Monday night.
Ohio State: At Rutgers on Sunday night.
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy