ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Not many believed Michigan could hang with No. 24 Ohio State Sunday at home but the Wolverines quickly dispelled those notions opening up a double-digit lead early and hanging on late to top the Buckeyes 64-57 at Crisler Center.
Two veterans stepped to the forefront for Michigan (14-13, 7-8) including a 16-point performance by junior Spike Albrecht and 15-points out of sophomore Zak Irvin. Albrecht and Irvin also combined for nine assists and zero turnovers, the only Wolverines to reach double figures. With the win, the Wolverines snap a deflating five game losing streak.
"That was a really highly-charged game, and I'm proud of the way that our guys performed,” Michigan coach John Beilein said post game. “I have a lot of admiration for the Ohio State program, and how they continue to play hard and play well, in addition to their outstanding defense. I feel really good that we were able to win the game despite their great plan and the excellent players and coaches that they have.
“So, really a good win for us and one that was much needed. We have a tradition of not singing the fight song if we don't win, so that locker room has been starved for the fight song for what seems like several weeks. Our guys sung it with a lot of gusto today."
Ohio State (19-8, 8-6) was plagued by 14 turnovers and a 5-for-19 mark (26.3-percent) from three-point range despite 16-points from freshman sensation D’Angelo Russell. Russell also turned the ball over five times on the afternoon.
Shooting a blistering 17-for-32 from the field in the first half, Michigan set the tone right from the get go jumping out to a 9-2 lead by the first media timeout, in large part because of strong play from Irvin on both ends of the floor. Irvin grabbed seven rebounds to tie for the team lead with Max Bielfeldt.
The Wolverines never gave the Buckeyes a chance to catch its breath in the first half, continuing the onslaught to lead 28-11 just over midway through the first half.
"I was shocked, honestly,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said about the slow start. “Early on I was telling myself, 'Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic, we'll get through this.'
“I finally panicked in a timeout early in the game -- not panicked, but just tried to get them to ignite and get going a little bit."
Michigan freshman Kameron Chatman, after losing his starting job earlier this season, exploded with six-points in the first half including aggressive takes to the rim.
The Michigan lead ballooned to as many as 20 over the first 20 minutes of play, a late bucket for Ohio State freshman Jae’Sean Tate making it 39-23 Wolverines at halftime.
In the second half, Ohio State made it interesting slowly chipping away at the Michigan lead, getting to within seven at 49-42 after a layup by Russell.
Ohio State climbed as close as three trailing just 49-46 with under seven minutes to go when Irvin answered with a huge three-pointer on Michigan’s next possession.
"We had to stay poised,” Albrecht said afterward. “We have been in that situation before where we had big leads -- five or ten points -- and let it slip away.
“It cost us some games. But we really locked in during timeouts, just saying that we weren't going to lose this game."
A Bates-Diop bucket cut Michigan’s lead back to four but Michigan again continued to answer Ohio State. Albrecht using the glass for an easy one followed by an Aubrey Dawkins field goal pushed the Wolverines lead back to eight with 3:38 to play.
Missed free throws hurt Ohio State following the final media timeout. Tate missed both attempts at the line, Russell then clanging the front end of a 1-and-1 situation as Michigan capitalized on the other end with an easy lay in for Irvin.
Albrecht hit all four of his free throw attempts in the final minute to salt away the victory for the Wolverines.