For the first time since the 2003-04 season, the Wolverines defeated the Ohio State men's basketball team. This time, an impassioned young team playing on its home court made big plays when it counted, shot well for the entire game and dealt the Buckeyes' tournament chances a blow with an 80-70 decision.
"You have to come and be focused and be ready and know and welcome the challenge that's ahead of you," OSU head coach Thad Matta told the Ohio State Basketball Radio Network. "How Michigan's only won 8 games this year, I honestly don't know. They're playing better basketball. They outplayed us today."
A basket by OSU sophomore swingman David Lighty with 17:08 remaining in the game put his team ahead, 44-42, but Michigan countered three possessions later with a trey by freshman guard Manny Harris to regain the lead, 46-44, with 16:29 remaining.
From there, the Buckeyes would threaten – and they had their chances – but were unable to reclaim the lead.
A three-pointer by U-M sophomore forward DeShawn Sims with 10:48 remaining pushed the Wolverines' lead to 10 points, 58-48, but the Buckeyes fought back. Freshmen guards Jon Diebler and Evan Turner helped key a 10-2 run that made it 60-58 with 8:06 remaining. Diebler started the run by hitting two treys while Turner scored on a drive to the basket and assisted on the final basket by hitting senior forward Othello Hunter with a pass as Turner drove to the basket, drawing the double team.
OSU had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but a quick Diebler trey fell short. At the other end, sophomore forward Zack Gibson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, pushing the score to 62-58 in favor of the Wolverines.
From there, OSU was never able to have the ball with a chance to tie the game for the rest of the way.
"We need good things to happen to us in order for us to play at our high level," Matta said. "As I told our guys after the game, ‘Unfortunately, there's five guys in yellow shirts out there who don't want that to happen.' "
The game served as revenge for the Wolverines, who lost 65-55 to the Buckeyes in Columbus on Feb. 5. In that game, Harris and Sims had seven and six points, respectively.
This time out, Harris poured in a career-high 27 points on 7 of 19 shooting, while Sims added 22 more. Each also contributed seven rebounds.
A first half that saw both teams head to the locker room with the score knotted at 38 featured hot shooting from both squads. The home squad went 15 for 31 (48.4 percent) from the floor in the first 20 minutes, but OSU did even better by connecting on an even 68.0 percent (17 of 25) during the same time span.
Although the Buckeyes held the lead for the majority of the half, Michigan built a five-point lead with 5:37 remaining when Harris connected on a trey to make it 33-28 Wolverines.
OSU would come storming back, however, thanks in part to Butler. Following Harris' trey, Butler canned one of his own to pull the Buckeyes to within two. Freshman guard Jon Diebler added a free throw to make it 33-32 Michigan, and after Harris misfired on a three pointer at the other end Butler laid one in on a fast break to put the Buckeyes back ahead, 34-33.
Senior forward Matt Terwilliger connected on a reverse layup after a nifty pass from sophomore swingman David Lighty, capping an 8-0 OSU run and putting the Buckeyes ahead by three points. However, Harris countered with another trey to pull both teams even at 36. Baskets by U-M's DeShawn Sims and Koufos set the score at the midway point.
With Michigan switching defenses throughout the first half, the Buckeyes continued calling on Koufos for points in the early going. The 7-0 freshman took a pass from Lighty, spun along the baseline and scored at the 10:12 mark of the first half, giving him 10 points and putting OSU ahead, 24-19.
U-M answered with a 7-0 run to pull ahead thanks in large part to David Merritt. The senior guard accounted for four of the points by driving recklessly to the basket, flipping shots above leaping OSU defenders. Both shots rolled around and fell through the basket, helping spur his team.
His second basket during the run gave him seven points for the game – a career-high.
The win gives Michigan its first three-game winning streak since Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2006. OSU had won seven straight against its rivals.