COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann sat across from Luther Muhammad at a recent lunch and told him there would soon be a day when the sophomore guard would need to “be the difference.”
That day turned out to be Sunday.
Muhammad scored 22 points and No. 25 Ohio State beat No. 7 Maryland 79-72, snapping the Terrapins’ nine-game winning streak.
Ohio State (18-9, 8-8 Big Ten) defeated a Top-10 team for the fourth time this season.
“He had big 3s, great confidence,” Holtmann said of Muhammad, who went 4 of 8 from beyond the arc. “They went under a lot of those ball screens at times and he was able to raise up and shoot it behind it, which was huge. I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Four other Buckeyes scored in double figures, led by Kaleb Wesson with 15 points. Duane Washington Jr. added 13, while Andre Wesson and C.J. Jackson each had 12.
“I am just happy we won,” Muhammad said. “I’m happy we all played hard, happy we stayed together. They made a lot of runs. They dug themselves back into the game. We just stayed together.”
Aaron Wiggins led Maryland (22-5, 12-4) with 20 points and Eric Ayala had 16, but the Terrapins got little help from their big guns. Leading scorer Jalen Smith, who averages 17.1 points per game, was held to eight. Anthony Cowan, who averages 16.9, scored 10 before fouling out.
“They deserve all the credit,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “They made us pay for mistakes. They got loose balls. They got free throws. They were terrific.
“My guys battled. We didn’t compete the first two minutes of the first half. Then we started to compete, we battled, never gave up. They were the better team.”
The Buckeyes dominated from outside, shooting 40% (10 for 25) from 3-point range.
The Terrapins fought back late, getting within four points with 32 seconds left, but the Buckeyes put the game away at the free throw line, where they went 16 of 16.
“The real step for them has to be consistency, including doing it on the road,” Holtmann said. “That is the sign of good players — can you be consistent home and on the road? We are not there. We are too inconsistent.”
Ohio State has proven it can run with the best, having beaten every Top 10 team it faced this season. Maryland, still looking down from atop the Big Ten standings, looks to move on as the NCAA tournament nears.
Ohio State played much of the game without forward Kyle Young, who went down at 4:29 off the first half after landing awkwardly on his right foot off a rebound. Young limped off with help, putting no pressure the leg, which has bothered him for weeks.
OUT WITH A KICK
Cowan fouled out with 3:54 left in the game after being assessed a flagrant technical for kicking at Kaleb Wesson’s head after a pileup under the basket.
BULLY FOR YOU
Turgeon on Kaleb Wesson: “He was allowed to be the bully offensively today. If he’s allowed to be the bully, he is a heck of a player.”
Holtmann had a different take.
“Mark said that? To each his own. His opinion can be his opinion. I thought Kaleb was physical and well within the rules,” the OSU coach said.
Maryland continues its two-game trip, facing Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Ohio State is at Nebraska on Thursday.