The Buckeyes (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) moved back above .500 in conference play with their best performance since league play began. Ohio State’s defense was impressive, helping Michigan (10-7, 3-2) commit 13 turnovers. The Wolverines also shot poorly from the field, making 33.9 percent (20 of 59) of their shots from the field.
Every Buckeye who played scored at least two points, led by D’Angelo Russell. The freshman scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed four rebounds and added six assists. Senior Sam Thompson added 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and senior Amir Williams posted 10 points and five rebounds. Ohio State shot 49.1 percent (28 of 57) as a team and outscored U-M 36-20 in the paint.
“I think that our team is starting to get a good feel for who we are," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "We know that we need to have the same type of energy in upcoming games that we did tonight.”
Neither team built much of a lead until the Buckeyes took advantage of a 11-0 run – boosted in large part to a 1-for-9 shooting drought by the Wolverines – that gave Ohio State a 24-14 lead with 8:44 left in the first quarter. Russell sparked the run with a three-pointer that gave OSU a 16-14 lead. Senior Trey McDonald added a layup, Thompson drained a jumper, as did redshirt freshman Kam Williams. Finally, freshman Jae’Sean Tate added a layup to extend the lead to 10 points.
The lead grew to 13 with 5:18 left before the break, forcing Michigan to call its second timeout of the half after Thompson made a running floater, stole the inbounds pass and scored again – all in a matter of seven seconds. The latter basket gave the Buckeyes a 30-17 advantage.
Ohio State’s advantage grew to as many as 17 before halftime when sophomore Marc Loving netter a three with 55 seconds on the clock to make it 39-24. Michigan added a layup by Spike Albrecht that sent the Wolverines into the break down 15.
The Buckeye defense excelled in the first half. Michigan made six of its first 12 shots but made just four of its final 15 during the rest of the half, averaging 37.0 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Ohio State shot 45.5 percent (15 of 33), led by Russell. The freshman made just two of six shots – both makes coming from beyond the arc – but made all four of his free throws. All eight of the Buckeyes who saw playing time before halftime scored at least two points.
The second half was scoreless for the first three minutes, but a layup by Russell with 17:00 on the clock sparked an 13-0 run that helped put the game out of reach. Michigan missed its first seven shots from the field, while Russell’s basket was followed by an Amir Williams layup, a another Russell basket and a crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk by Thompson with an assist from Scott. The dunk forced Michigan to call timeout, its fourth of the game, and upped Ohio State’s lead to 47-24 with 15:15 remaining.
The OSU run was capped by a three-point play by Scott and a layup by Kam Williams before Michigan ended its drought with its first basket of the second half on tip-in by Max Bielfeldt off a missed layup, which cut Ohio State’s lead to 52-28.
The Bielfeldt basket sparked a 10-2 run that narrowed U-M’s deficit to 20 at 54-34. Michigan would get within 14 (64-50) with 3:13 remaining on a jumper by Mark Donnal, but that was as close as the Wolverines would get.
Loving answered the Donnal jumper with a three that helped squash any chance of a potential miraculous Michigan comeback, causing the Ohio State student section to cap the victory with a chant.
“Just like football! Just like football!”
Less than 24 hours after Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes staked their claim as the nation’s best, the party continued in Columbus.
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