Jalen Smith and No. 7 Maryland each look to extend streaks to double digits when the Terrapins play at No. 25 Ohio State on Sunday.
Smith’s run of nine straight games with a double-double coincides with a nine-game winning streak that has propelled the Terrapins (22-4, 12-3 Big Ten) into the conference lead.
Smith’s latest performance included 22 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in a 76-67 win over Northwestern on Tuesday.
“He just keeps growing,” coach Mark Turgeon said of the sophomore forward. “He does so much for us on the defensive end. And offensively, he really helps us space the floor.”
Smith just missed having the first 20-rebound game by a Maryland player since Joe Smith had 21 against Texas in the 1995 NCAA Tournament.
“We’re just clicking on all cylinders right now,” Jalen Smith said. “Everybody has so much confidence. Coaches are always by our side, boosting our confidence even more, and everyone’s playing their role.”
Ohio State (17-9, 7-8) will have more than Smith to contend with. Anthony Cowan, the current conference player of the week, added 19 points against Northwestern to move past Tom McMillan to the eighth spot on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,809 points).
Darryl Morsell had 13 points and seven assists against the Wildcats.
“I keep thinking our best basketball is still ahead of us, and we’ve played pretty well,” Turgeon said. “We’re not gonna get caught up in ourselves, because we’re at Ohio State, at Minnesota, Michigan State at home, at Rutgers and Michigan.
“So, we’ve got to lock in, get better and do the best we can, but it’s nice to be on top right now.”
That could be bad news for the Buckeyes, who return to Columbus, Ohio, after an 85-76 loss at No. 20 Iowa on Thursday.
The Buckeyes have won five of seven after losing six of seven.
But they got off to a horrendous start against the Hawkeyes, falling behind 18-3, and never threatened.
“I don’t think you’re going to win on the road in this league, or at home for that matter, with a lack of bite that we had in the first five minutes,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Deflections. Physicality defensively. Physicality into the ball. All of that. We didn’t have enough of that kind of activity.”
Iowa was the fifth opponent this season to score at least 70 points against the Buckeyes.
A bright spot for Ohio State was freshman E.J. Liddell’s career highs for points (17) and rebounds (eight) off the bench.
“I was just trying to play as hard as I can so we could win, but Iowa’s a really good team,” Liddell said. “They competed very well.”
Sunday’s game is a rematch from Jan. 7 when Maryland won 67-55 at home behind Cowan’s 20 points and Smith’s 11 points and seven boards.
–Field Level Media