OSU Defense Closes Out Michigan

Ohio State forced 29 Michigan turnovers and rolled to an easy 72-46 win before the first sellout crowd of the season Saturday at Value City Arena. Terence Dials led OSU with 19 points and nine rebounds.

On Saturday, Ohio State showed what you do when you have a Michigan team down.

The Buckeyes forced 29 UM turnovers and rolled to an all-too-easy 72-46 win over the struggling Wolverines before the year's first sellout crowd of 19,200 at Value City Arena.

"Our defense generated some offense and got us going," said OSU coach Thad Matta, whose team scored a whopping 31 points off turnovers. "Once again, this was a great team win for us."

Michigan committed 18 first-half turnovers in falling behind 40-19, all but sealing the Wolverines' sixth straight loss and fourth straight without suspended guard Daniel Horton.

"I wish I had the answer," said UM coach Tommy Amaker. "If I did, I would have used it. It was not so much that they were a pressure team. The fact is we're not very good right now. That's probably the understatement of the year."

The win allowed Ohio State (16-7, 5-4) to move above .500 in Big Ten play for the first time since the end of the 2001-02 season, when the Buckeyes were part of a four-way tie for the conference championship at 11-5.

OSU also won its fourth straight game and assured itself of a winning season.

"This is a really big win," said OSU's J.J. Sullinger, who had nine points, five rebounds and three steals. "We are above .500 (in the Big Ten) for the first time in a long time. That's something to be happy about. It was at home, and you want to protect your home floor. And it was against Michigan. It probably doesn't get any bigger than that."

Terence Dials led OSU with 19 points and nine rebounds.

"This was a total team effort," Dials said. "We played great defense and had a lot of steals and a lot of deflections. That led us on a surge."

Tony Stockman chipped in 16 points. Je'Kel Foster added 11 points, four assists and three steals.

Ten different Michigan players committed turnovers, while nine Buckeyes combined for 17 steals.

"That's the plan every game," Foster said. "It starts on defense. The first four minutes sets the tone for the rest of the half."

Courtney Sims led Michigan (12-11, 3-6) with 15 points. Dion Harris added nine points.

OSU got out of the gate strong, building leads of 8-0, 17-2 and 22-4. Sullinger opened the game with a three-pointer. Dials then got a rare breakaway jam off a steal by Jamar Butler. Stockman canned a trey for an 8-0 OSU lead with 16:43 left in the first half.

"That is what Coach talked about, getting on them early and not give them any hope or confidence," Stockman said. "We want to put them away early and I think we did that today."

After Harris scored for Michigan, the Buckeyes reeled off nine more unanswered points. Dials had another dunk, Foster hit a three, Stockman converted a steal by Foster into a layup and Matt Sylvester scored on the break to put OSU up 17-2 with 12:50 left in the half. After Harris scored again for UM, Foster made a trey and Dials scored off a rebound to push the lead to 22-4 with 11:28 left.

Michigan rallied to cut the lead to 24-14 after Dials tipped a Sims miss into the UM basket with 6:29 left. But OSU outscored UM 16-5 over the balance of the half with Stockman tallying seven points and Dials adding six as the Buckeyes moved ahead 40-19 at the intermission.

OSU led by 20 or more most of the second half. A Sylvester three-pointer pushed the lead to 46-23 with 15:09 left in the game. A Stockman layup off a steal by Brandon Fuss-Cheatham made it 56-31 with 10:53 left.

Foster's trey with 1:36 left gave OSU its first 26-point lead at 68-42 with 1:36 left. Seldom used freshmen Jermyl Jackson-Wilson and Matt Terwilliger each scored in the final 1:03 as well for the Buckeyes.

Also Notable

* The 29 turnovers by Michigan were the most by any Big Ten team this year.

* Matta and his players were pleased to finally play before a sellout crowd.

"I though the environment today was very good," Matta said. "I have been a lot of places. That's how hopefully we'll build this. That was one of the best college environments I've been in. The students were in there."

Sullinger added, "It was exciting, like I never would have imagined it like this. It was packed and everybody was excited. Everybody was up in their seat and cheering. We feed off of that. The fans were really into it tonight. That made us feel good about ourselves."

The sellout was OSU's first since last year's game against Texas Tech and 28th in the seven-year history of the building.

* OSU improved to 83-70 all-time against Michigan, including 4-1 in Value City Arena.

The Buckeyes snapped a three-game losing streak to UM, dating to their record three wins over the Wolverines in the 2001-02 season.

* The 26-point win was OSU's largest in the Michigan series since a 103-70 home win over UM in the Final Four season of 1968.

The 46 points scored were Michigan's fewest against OSU since a 79-46 loss in 1953.

* Dials ended up one rebound shy of his seventh double-double of the year. Matta was glad to see his center be more involved after struggling the last several games. Dials scored off several offensive rebounds.

"Terence went through with LSU and the Minnesota games a stretch where he had to play a lot of minutes," Matta said. "He had been under the weather and we're just getting him back. He played with energy and quickness and speed. Terence really competed today.

"I was on him this week. I thought he let his guard down against Purdue. But today he got his shot blocked (by Sims), got it back and went back up and scored. He had six offensive rebounds and played with a little more determination than before."

* OSU improved to 89-21 all-time in VCA and 13-1 at home this year (one game was at St. John Arena).

* Matta, in his fifth season as a college head coach, saw his record improve to 66-7 in home games.

* The Buckeyes visit Michigan State Wednesday night (8 p.m., ESPN-Plus). The 10th-ranked Spartans were 14-4 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play before visiting Iowa Saturday afternoon. It will be the only meeting between OSU and MSU during the regular season.

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