Playing in front of a hostile road crowd, the Buckeyes earned a much-needed victory, 65-58, against No. 24 Michigan to move above .500 in Big Ten play. More importantly, OSU showed a sense of maturity not recently seen in Columbus.
As in the team's two previous conference road losses, the Buckeyes led a first-half lead eventually disappear as the home team came from behind. This time, it took the Wolverines until the second half to seize control.
But this time, the Buckeyes absorbed the punch and delivered a counterpunch that propelled them to victory.
At 44-40, the Wolverines (13-5, 3-3 Big Ten) had opened up their largest lead of the game when a Stu Douglass three-pointer capped a 19-8 run that erased a seven-point OSU lead. After the teams traded possessions, the Buckeyes (13-3, 3-2) got a jumper from sophomore guard Evan Turner to pull back within two points at 44-42 with 7:01 remaining.
The basket ignited a 14-3 OSU run that put the visitors ahead 54-47 with 1:47 left in the game. From there, free-throw shooting by Turner helped the Buckeyes hold on for the victory.
Two baskets by Turner from the charity stripe were the first of eight free throws he converted in the final 1:47. He finished the night 11 of 14 from the line, and his 19 points were a team high.
During OSU's 14-2 run, the lone Michigan basket temporarily stemmed the tide and knotted the score at 47-all with 5:31 remaining, but from there the Buckeyes went to their two most reliable offensive players of the night: freshmen B.J. Mullens and William Buford.
On the next possession, Mullens caught a perfect lob pass from sophomore guard Jon Diebler and dunked the ball to give OSU a lead. Douglass missed a wide-open three-point attempt on his team's next possession, and the Buckeyes countered with Buford this time.
Taking a pass on the left wing, Buford blew past his defender and drove the basket, laying it in to push the OSU lead to four points.
Buford and Mullens each finished with 15 points. Mullens was the focal point of an OSU plan that saw the visitors try to force the ball inside, and the 7-0 center was all-too-happy to oblige. He finished the game 7 for 9 from the floor and had three alley-oop dunks.
Not only does the win mark OSU's first road victory in conference play this season, but it gives the Buckeyes their third victory against a ranked team this season – one more than they had all last season.
After opening up an 11-point lead in the first half, the Buckeyes went cold from the floor as the Wolverines delivered a counterpunch. Punctuated by a three-pointer from Harris that touched nothing but the bottom of the net, the Wolverines ended the first half on a 9-2 run to set the halftime margin at 29-25.
To that point, it was the Wolverines who could only watch as OSU seized control of the game. Michigan made it 17-14 on a trey by Kelvin Grady with 11:26 remaining, but that would be the last field goal by the home team until Harris' deep trey at the 2:01 mark. In between came two free throws from DeShawn Sims and a basket awarded to Grady after OSU's P.J. Hill was called for goaltending. Video replays showed that 6-1 Hill clearly blocked the ball before it was headed downward, but the basket stood.
It was Sims' free throws that started the U-M run that ended the first half.
The Wolverines struggled against OSU's 3-2 zone defense, frequently settling for deep three-point attempts. For the game, 29 of Michigan's 56 shots from the field came from behind the line, and they hit on 10 of them (34.5 percent). Leading the way was Douglass, who had 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep.
Michigan was led by Manny Harris, who had a game-high 21 points.
In a return to his home state, OSU junior point guard Jeremie Simmons was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game. A sophomore last year at Flint (Mich.) Mott Community College, Simmons finished with seven points, four assists and two turnovers while accumulating four fouls.