#4 Buckeyes Fall to #3 Michigan at Home

The 4th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes fell to 18-5 and 12-5 after losing at home to 3rd ranked Michigan 92-87 in a battle of two of the elite teams in college basketball. Michigan used a hot shooting first half and their size advantage in the second half to defeat Ohio State in a back and forth basketball game that saw 11 ties and 18 lead changes. With the win, Michigan solidifies their #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and moves closer to the regular season Big Ten title, moving to 16-1 and 11-1 in conference play. Duane Washington Jr led all scorers with a career high 30, while E.J. Liddell added 23 and 10 rebounds for a double-double. C.J. Walker chipped in with 15 for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes opened the game scoring the first four.  An E.J. Liddell 15 footer from the right corner and a Kyle Young Bucket off a Lidell pass in transition gave Ohio State the 4-0 early lead. A Michigan triple got the Wolverines on the board two minutes in. Duane Washington Jr. got to the rim off the bounce for a bucket and a 6-3 Buckeye lead. Another Wolverine triple tied it at six before Washington broke the tie with a triple of his own. Michigan converted an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the score at nine at the first media timeout of the game. Liddell drilled a three putting Ohio State back ahead momentarily before Michigan answered with their own triple. Washington got to the rim again off the dribble drive putting Ohio State ahead. Zed Key scored off the block putting Ohio State up four and after a Michigan bucket cut it to a pair, Washington drilled a long three from the right point giving Ohio State a five-point lead at the under 12 media timeout. Out of the timeout, an 8-0 Michigan run, fueled by a pair of triples, forced Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Michigan suddenly out front by three. Liddell scored from 12 feet on the right wing ending a three plus minute scoring drought for Ohio State and trimming the Wolverine lead to one. A Michigan triple increased the lead to four, but C.J. Walker knocked down a triple from the top to cut the lead back to one. A Michigan bucket was followed by Liddell scoring on a 12 foot fade away after a second effort opportunity. A bucket each way preceded a 5-0 Michigan mini run, capped by another Wolverine triple gave Michigan a six point lead. Seth Towns ended the run with a shimmy shake move from the left perimeter and getting to the rim for a score while getting fouled. Towns knocked down the free throw to cut the lead back to three. A Michigan turn over led to Liddell getting the rim off the bounce as he was fouled. Liddell made both free throw opportunities cutting the lead to just one. Michigan drilled another triple but a Walker jumper from the left elbow answered getting the Buckeyes to within two. After a Wolverine turnover, Meechie Johnson drilled a long three from the left point putting Ohio State back ahead by a point. Michigan answered right back, hitting a three of their own and giving the Wolverines the lead. Walker answered the three with a right elbow jumper tying the score and at the final media timeout of the half, the score was deadlocked at 40.  The Buckeyes went back to work, as Liddell drilled a three from an inside out pass from Kyle Young and Ohio State regained the lead by 3. Michigan hit another triple to tie the score and after Ohio State used the entire shot clock and failed to convert, Michigan scored off the bounce at the horn to send the teams to the halftime break with Michigan holding a 45-43 lead. E.J. Liddell led all scorers at the break with 14, while Duane Washington, Jr. added 12. The Wolverines hit 10 first half triples, their season high, on just 13 attempts for a blistering 77%, while shooting 56.7% from the field overall. The Buckeyes hit on 53% of their shot attempts, which included 6 of 13 from long range.

The second half opened with Liddell drilling a triple from the left point putting Ohio State back ahead a point. Two Michigan free throws gave Michigan a lead until Washington got to the rim off the bounce putting Ohio State up a point. A corner jumper by the Wolverines and a Washington bucket to the left of the rim off the dribble drive had Ohio State maintaining a one-point lead. Four straight Wolverine points, including another three had the Wolverines grabbing a four-point lead. After a Michigan turnover, Washington got to the rim again to cut the lead to two at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, Sueing scored mid paint as he was fouled to tie the score. Sueing made the free throw, breaking the tie and putting Ohio State up one. Michigan broke the mini Ohio State run scoring the next five to go ahead four. Washington ended the Wolverine run, going strong to the rim for the score and completed an old-fashioned three-point play, knocking down the free throw. Walker drilled a high arcing fade away just inside the stripe putting Ohio State back on top and after a Michigan miss, Washington scored on a tear drop from the right baseline giving Ohio State a 62-59 lead at the under 12 media timeout and 11:07 to go. A Michigan bucket trimmed the Buckeye lead to one and ended a 3-minute Wolverine scoring drought. The Buckeyes went ahead four after Young converted an old-fashioned three-point play, but a 6-0 Wolverine run fueled by a pair of Buckeye turnovers put Michigan back on top two at the under 8 media timeout. Liddell and Washington worked the pick and roll to perfection with Liddell scoring at the rim as he was fouled and buried the free throw giving Ohio State the one point lead. After a Michigan score, Liddell split a pair of free throws to tie the score, but a 4-0 Michigan run keyed by several offensive rebounds put the Wolverines back up four. Washington stopped the Michigan momentum, hitting a cold-blooded step back three from the top to cut the lead to one, but a monster Michigan dunk gave the Wolverines a 72-75 lead at the four-minute media timeout and exactly four minutes left in the game. Out of the timeout, Walker headed to the stripe for the one and one and buried both to cut the lead to just one. A Michigan dunk put the Wolverines up three and after an Ohio State turnover, Michigan got in transition and scored and after the foul, completed a three-point play giving the Wolverines a six-point bulge. A pair of Liddell free throws cut the lead to four but a tip in other the other end gave Michigan a six-point lead with just 1:30 to go. Liddell’s shot was blocked on the offensive end and Michigan scored at the rim on the other end to put Michigan up eight with just under one minute to play. Sueing drilled a three from the left corner to trim the lead to five and Ohio State called a quick timeout with 44.4 seconds to go and Michigan on top 84-79. The Wolverines knocked down a pair of free throws to go up seven and after Washington had his triple go halfway down and pop out, Michigan made two more freebies to go up 9. Washington drilled a three with 16 seconds left to cut it to six, and after Michigan split a pair of free throws, Walker got to the rim for a score with less than 10 seconds left and another Buckeye timeout but time was running out as Michigan led 89-84.  Michigan split their free throw opportunities to go up six, and Washington drilled a three from straight on top to cut the lead to just three with 3.4 seconds remaining and Michigan took a timeout. A foul on the inbounds play sent Michigan to the stripe with 2.8 seconds remaining and both fell sealing the game and the Wolverine win.

Although a disappointing result for Ohio State, these were two elite teams and potential final four contenders going head to head, unfortunately one team has to lose, and today it was the Buckeyes. The offensive rebounding of the Wolverines ultimately cost Ohio State in the second half.  Michigan cooled off tremendously from beyond the arc in the second 20 minutes, but it was the second and third chance opportunities to the tune of 10 offensive rebounds that ultimately cost Ohio State in this one. While the goal of winning the Big Ten title may be gone, Ohio State can still reach many of their goals but it won’t be easy down the stretch. They have a little time to get their legs and rest and get as healthy as they can before the next ballgame but make no mistake, Ohio State is elite and they will be ready to go when the ball is tipped in East Lansing next Thursday night.

Ohio State will next take the floor on Thursday night as they hit the road for the final time this season, heading to East Lansing for a visit with Michigan State.  Tip time for that game is scheduled for 9 PM and airing on ESPN.


-Jason Harris

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