Michigan Bags Bucks in Home Finale

<p>Tuesday&#8217;s loss to the Michigan State Spartans was one that took a lot out of this young Michigan basketball team. With all the emotion that was spent in that game, a letdown today versus the Ohio State Buckeyes was quite possible. Fortunately for Michigan fans, Amaker had his young men prepared and they rebounded with a <strong>75-64 victory</strong> at Crisler Arena.</p>

After the heartbreaking loss to Michigan State on Tuesday, Wolverine head man Tommy Amaker was worried about the lingering effects of the defeat on his players. Even prior to that contest against the Spartans, Amaker told his team that the game versus Ohio State would just as important (if not more so.) “We really felt whatever happened on Tuesday night, Sunday’s game was the kind of game that could show a lot,” Amaker said. “If we won Tuesday we would need finish off the segment of another game at home and wrap that up. If we dropped the game on Tuesday, which we did, we would need to bounce back and win our final game at home against a team with a fighting spirit.” The game with the Buckeyes not only signaled the end of the home schedule, the also the last game seniors Colin Dill and Bernard Robinson Jr. would ever play in Crisler arena. They were commemorated in a pre-game ceremony and both started the contest. Unfortunately the emotion from that moment didn’t carry over to the start of the game for the maize and blue.

Colin Dill

The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead behind 2 buckets from Velimir Radinovic and 2 from Tony Stockman, including a big 3-pointer. However, Lester Abram gave the Wolverines a kick-start shortly thereafter…scoring seven of their next nine points (including a 3-pointer of his own) to make the score 13-11 with 14:23 remaining. The two teams turned up the defensive intensity and struggled to add to their point totals over the next few minutes. Stockman accounted for all 4 Buckeye points over a three-minute period ending at 11:03. The Wolverines capitalized and Brent Petway tied the game at 17 with 10:50 left in the half. Thanks in large part to Petway’s efforts, the Wolverines did not look back on their way to a 40-31 lead at intermission.

With his family in the stands, the 6-8 dynamo dazzled the crowd with his energy on both ends of the floor. He kept a number of plays alive offensively, scoring 8 points on putbacks in the first half. On defense he altered almost every shot that was in his vicinity. Dion Harris and Lester Abram made huge 3’s in the last ten minutes of the half to help extend the lead to double digits, but when the Bucks began to chip away at the deficit, it was Petway’s play that gave the Michigan a big lift. “I thought Brent Petway was outstanding with his blocks and offensive rebounds He was the difference for our team,” Amaker said. “We have seen Brent do a lot of things at times in a spectacular fashion. He was fairly efficient and very active and lively today. I really thought his athleticism stood out. He made his free throws and his energy and effort defensively were keys for us.”

Ohio State came out of the locker room gunning, Stockman once again rung the bell from long range to cut the lead to 6. After having a relatively quiet first half, Michigan’s Courtney Sims responded with a big dunk and another bucket to get the lead back out to double digits. Radinovic fueled another push by the visitors with 4 straight points, but Lester Abram (who scored 10 points in the first half) went on a tear that almost knocked the Bucks out for good. The Pontiac native scored all eight Wolverine points (with six coming on three-pointers), to put Michigan up 52-38 with 13:02 to go. Coach Amaker has grown to expect such efforts from his sophomore swingman, but he was disappointed with one aspect of Lester’s game today. “Lester is that kind of player for us,” Amaker said referring to the offensive lift Abram gave the team. “He was very efficient today. I am disappointed in the five turnovers, especially that one at the end, but when shoot that way I guess we can allow something to go wrong.”

Courtney Sims nails the bucket over Velimir Radinovic!

OSU made one more big run at the Wolverine lead behind seven more points from Stockman over a 2 minute stint to cut the lead to 7, at 56-49 with 9:10 left in the game. Unfortunately for the Bucks, this was one lead the Wolverines were not going to squander. Daniel Horton hadn’t scored a single point in the first half, but he nailed 8/10 free throws down the stretch to help Michigan protect its lead and preserve a 75-64 victory. “Certainly, I thought this was a win for our program and team that was critical coming off an emotional game over the week,” Amaker said. “We could see some of the lingering effects of the week early on. I give a lot of credit to our guys to be able to battle through.”

On the game Abram led the Wolverines with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Robinson finished his final home game with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Tony Stockman led the Buckeyes with 22 points and 4 assists respectively. For the full boxscore from today’s game, please click here.

Bernard Robinson Jr.

The Wolverines next game will be against the Indiana Hoosiers (12-13, 6-8) in Bloomington on Wednesday at 6pm. The Hoosiers prevailed in the first meeting between these two teams in Ann Arbor, 59-57.

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