Ohio State Pulls Away Late for Convincing Victory over #19 Michigan
The 23rd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes swept the season series from their archrival, holding serve at home in defeating the Wolverines 77-63 to move to 20-9 on the season, including 10-8 in Big Ten play. With the score tied and 6:30 to go, Ohio State proceeded to go on a 23-9 run to pull away from Michigan and to chants of ‘just like football’, the Buckeyes celebrated a big home win. Utilizing 10 triples, and efficient defense despite being shorthanded for the second straight game, Ohio State put five in double figures, led by Duane Washington Jr.’s 20 and 6 rebounds. C.J. Walker added 15, to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists and Kaleb Wesson added 14 and 9 rebounds. Andre Wesson added 14 and Luther Muhammad scored 10 as Ohio State won for the 8th time in 10 tries dropping the Wolverines to 18-11 overall and 9-9 in conference play. The Buckeyes hit on 47% from the field and 52% from long range, while holding the Wolverines to 44.6% and just 7 of 26 from deep.
Michigan jumped out to an early 5-3 lead when a triple found its way down the cords 3 minutes into the game. After a Buckeye miss, the Wolverines scored at the rim to lead 7-3. After a Michigan turnover, Duane Washington, Jr. found Luther Muhammad in transition to cut the lead to 2. After a Michigan bucket, Washington buried a corner three to cut the deficit to 1 and on the next possession, Andre Wesson drilled a three from the top of the key to put the Buckeyes in front by 2 and forcing Michigan to call timeout with 13:51 to go in the half. A bucket each way sent the teams to the under 12 media timeout with Ohio State on top 13-11. E.J. Liddell hit a turnaround 15 footer to give Ohio State a 4-point lead, but Michigan answered with a 7-0 run to go up 3. Andre Wesson ended the Wolverine run with a turnaround one hander on the baseline and on the ensuing possession, Muhammed picked up a steal and raced to the other end for a lay in to put Ohio State back in front 19-18. Back to back Washington triples put Ohio State up 25-18 before a pair of Michigan free throws ended the Buckeye 10-0 run. Kaleb Wesson kept the Buckeyes rolling, hitting a triple from the head of the key to give Ohio State a 28-20 advantage. After another pair of Wolverine free throws, E.J. Liddell scored on a rebound and put back to give Ohio State a 30-22 lead at the under 4 timeout. A 4-0 Wolverine run, including a field goal that broke an over 5-minute drought without one, cut the lead to just 4. After a Washington jumper fell, Michigan buried a three that ended the scoring for the half with Ohio State on top at the break, 32-29. Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 11 and Andre Wesson added 9, while E.J. Liddell was active off the bench with 4 points and 5 rebounds. The Buckeyes hit 41% of their first half field goal attempts, but did knock down 5 of 12 from long range, while holding Michigan to just 38% from the field and 3 of 13 from deep in the first 20 minutes.
C.J. Walker opened the second half scoring with a 15-foot jumper putting the Buckeyes up 5. The lead didn’t last as Michigan proceeded to go on a 9-0 run to go up 4, forcing Ohio State to call timeout with 17:32 to go in the game and Michigan on top 38-34. Walker ended the Wolverine run, scoring at the rim while being fouled and bagged the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play and cut the deficit to 1. A pair of Washington free throws put the Buckeyes back on top a point with just under 16 to go. Kaleb Wesson knocked down a 3 to cap an 8-0 Buckeye run to give Ohio State a 4-point lead. After a Michigan hoop trimmed the lead to 2, the Buckeyes answered with a 4-0 run to go back up 6. Michigan came right back with a 4-0 run of their own to trim the lead back to 2, but a Michigan bucket was bookended by a pair of Washington triples, his fourth and fifth of the game, forcing Michigan to call timeout with Ohio State on top 52-46 and just under 10 minutes remaining. Back to back Michigan 3’s tied the score before C.J. Walker stroked a 15 footer down the ropes to put the Buckeyes back ahead at the under 8 minute media timeout. A turnover each way, followed by a Michigan bucket tied the score with 6:30 to go, but the Buckeyes would answer. A Walker pull-up 15 footer dropped to put the Buckeyes back ahead and after a Michigan offensive foul, Andre Wesson banked in a three from the top and Kaleb Wesson followed with a triple of his own capping an 8-0 Buckeye run giving Ohio State an 8-point lead. Michigan cut the lead to 6 and at the final media timeout of the game, Ohio State led 64-58. A pair of Muhammad free throws followed by a Walker turn around short jumper in the paint put the Buckeyes up 10 and after a Michigan turnover, Kaleb Wesson scored on a dribble drive off the glass to go up 12. Michigan scored to cut the lead to 10 and quickly called a timeout but with just 2:05 to go. Kaleb Wesson banked in a triple with the shot clock expiring effectively ending the game. 4 free throws, 2 each by Muhammad and Walker put the Buckeyes up 17 before a late Michigan 3 completed the scoring in the Buckeye victory.
Ohio State may have found something in their 3-guard lineup. The Buckeyes looked quicker and more active on both ends and did an outstanding job of keeping the Michigan guards from getting into the paint. While the Buckeyes struggled to get much offense of their own in the paint, they were able to spread the floor with their guards and create open looks for their shooters and to their credit, hit many of those looks to keep Michigan on their heels for much of the game. This was one they needed to get at home and before a sellout crowd, they were able to get the job done. They are definitely playing some of their best basketball of the season despite being without Kyle Young and Alonzo Gaffney for the second straight game and continuing to be without the services of D.J. Carton, the 6 or 7 who played were very efficient and showed once again what this team is capable of moving forward into March. They will finish off the home slate on Thursday before travelling to East Lansing to complete the regular season and they have a chance to get another couple big, ranked victories before the post season.
Ohio State will celebrate their two seniors on Thursday night at the Schott, hosting Illinois at 7pm. The game will be aired on ESPN.