As the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half of Maryland men’s basketball’s 87-62 win over Ohio on Thursday night, Terps Director of Operations Nima Omidvar slammed his hand on the top of the scorer’s table. A few feet away, coach Mark Turgeon yelled and took a few steps towards his bench and, eventually, the locker room, venting to his assistant coaches as they left the court.
Even though Maryland led 41-28 at the half, Bobcats forward Jason Carter’s steal from guard Kevin Huerter and subsequent layup ended the half on a sour, but appropriate, note after 20 minutes of basketball that weren’t the Terps’ best.
Perhaps, if the Terps hadn’t come off a pair of Big Ten games that went down the wire and served as a barometer for Maryland’s current state, the team wouldn’t have been as nitpicky with a blowout win, which was further marred by Fernando exiting with a sprained right ankle midway through the second half.
“We were in and out of it, offensively,” Turgeon said. “When we were good, we were good. When we weren’t very good, we weren’t very good. We’re a work in progress.”
Turgeon showed his frustration with his team’s play frequently, despite being pleased overall with a game he hadn’t expected to be so lopsided.
He turned his back to the court and looked at the floor as the shot clock wound down on a discombobulated Terps possession with about 12 minutes left in the game.
But Ohio fouled guard Anthony Cowan just before the shot clock expired, as the Terps’ leading scorer used his athleticism to lose the Bobcats defenders. The sophomore’s free throws extended the Terps’ lead to 14 points. The result of Thursday’s game was never in doubt thanks to performances like Cowan’s 12-point, seven-assist outing.
“I must have turned around to my assistants five times during the game and just said, ‘Man this kid is really getting good,'” Turgeon said. “He’s playing at a high level.”
Ohio never led, and it took Maryland fewer than four minutes to open a double digit lead to begin the game. Center Michal Cekovsky notched six of the Terps’ first 13 points and finished with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting.
“We talked before the game [about] playing inside-out, posting the ball more,” Cekovsky said. “Last games, we played all these kind of [zone] defenses so it was kind of hard to post the ball. The gameplan was different tonight.”
Huerter opened Maryland’s lead to 20 points with a jumper shortly after intermission, two of his 11 second-half points that powered his game-high 17 points on 4-for-8 3-point shooting.
His turnover to Carter, which Huerter said was partially the result of miscalculating how much time was left, was his only giveaway of the game. But the Terps turned the ball over 19 times, two higher than their 333rd-worst average of 17.
“It’s just something we have to get better at if we want to compete at the highest level,” Huerter said. “At this point, I really don’t know what else to say … We just have to stop turning the ball over.”
By the end, Cowan, Cekovsky and Huerter had helped widen Maryland’s lead enough that Turgeon emptied his bench despite the team not playing a complete game, he said.
With the injury to Fernando, forward Justin Jackson — who didn’t start due to illness — followed his best game of the season with a 3-for-11 night. With the Terps’ continued struggles to take care of the ball, there were plenty of areas Maryland can focus on as it continues its romp through the easiest portion of its schedule.
“Our offense is not anywhere close where it needs to be right now,” Cowan said. “At times, we defend at really high levels. But we need to start doing it 40 minutes.”