"I thought that we competed a lot harder," OSU head coach Thad Matta told the Ohio State Men's Basketball Radio Network. "As I told the guys, there are some pretty good positives out of there that we can take. A lot of it comes down to the second half we couldn't put the ball in the basket. We had some wide open shots that weren't going in for us."
OSU (10-4, 0-2 Big Ten) trailed for the majority of the game but tied it at 52 when sophomore guard William Buford connected on a three-pointer that capped a personal 8-0 run for the Toledo native. Michigan responded with a basket from forward DeShawn Sims that was answered by a three-pointer from senior Buckeye guard P.J. Hill with 6:40 left, but it was all Wolverines from there.
Michigan (7-6, 1-1) put the Buckeyes away with a 13-3 run that began with the aforementioned Sims basket and during which all of its points came courtesy of the team's dynamic duo: Sims and guard Manny Harris.
With the Wolverines tightening their defense, the Buckeyes went cold from the field. During the 13-3 U-M run, OSU went 1 for 8 from the floor and committed one turnover.
For the game, Harris and Sims combined for 52 points with Sims leading the way with 28 and nine rebounds. Sims added seven boards.
"I was happy from the standpoint of coming back and getting the lead," Matta said. "It came down to making plays and quite honestly Sims and Harris made the plays to win Michigan the game. We didn't get the job done on two guys."
It marked the first time Michigan beat a ranked OSU team in 11 years and marked only the second victory for the Wolverines in the past 11 installments of the rivalry.
Matta said after the game he was pleased with Buford's effort in the second half after getting on him at halftime for committing a few careless turnovers.
Their points did not come easily. Diebler was 6 for 14 from the field, Buford 5 for 17 and Lighty 5 for 12 as the Wolverines collapsed their defense to prevent the Buckeyes from penetrating.
It worked, as OSU hit on 10 of 32 (31.3 percent) of its three-point attempts. For the game, OSU shot 36.9 percent (24 for 65) from the floor compared to 55.8 percent (29 for 52) for the Wolverines. In the first half, OSU hit on 50 percent of its shots.
"I told the guys at a time out in the first half that I haven't seen Michigan play like that this year, (so) Hang in there and stay tough)," Matta said. "Unfortunately for us, (Michigan) kept going. The crowd got into it and got going. We've got to have the ability in certain stretches to step up and knock some big shots down."
The Buckeyes looked headed for a second consecutive blowout loss until Diebler got untracked. Michigan answered a David Lighty basket on the game's first possession with a 9-0 run, but the Buckeyes crawled back into the game thanks to the junior's perimeter shooting.
When Diebler hit his fourth three-pointer of the half, it capped an 18-11 run in favor of the Buckeyes and pulled them to within two points at 22-20 with 8:16 remaining. After scoring more than 10 points just once in the team's last five games since Evan Turner went down with an injury, Diebler had 14 of his team's first 22 points.
"I thought Jon did a good job knocking shots down," Matta said. "I was telling him to keep firing away."
OSU pulled even with 4:09 left in the first half on a conventional three-point play from senior guard Jeremie Simmons, but the visitors did not pull ahead until a Lighty three-pointer with 1:20 remaining made the score 32-31.
Harris immediately answered with his own three-point play, setting the halftime score at 34-32. The Wolverines were aided by nine OSU turnovers that were converted into seven points.