Buckeyes Woes Continue, Fall to Michigan in Ann Arbor

Ohio State slipped to below .500 for the first time in February since the ‘03-’04 season, Jim O’Brien’s final year, dropping their 9th game in the last 10, never leading and falling to Michigan 77-69. With the loss, the fourth straight, Ohio State falls to 11-12 and 3-9 while Michigan improves to 13-10 and 7-5. The Buckeyes were led by Bruce Thornton’s 22, while Justice Sueing and Brice Sensabaugh added 14 each with the latter adding 9 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. Hunter Dickinson led all scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Jett Howard added 16 and Kobe Bufkin chipped in 13 for the winning Wolverines. The Wolverines outshot Ohio State 49% to 41%, while the Wolverines knocked down 8 of 23 from three and Ohio State knocked down 5 of their 16 attempts from long range. Despite out scoring Michigan 10-2 in points off turnovers, the Buckeyes had no answer for Dickinson and every time Ohio State got close, Michigan went right inside to the big man and he could not be stopped as the Buckeyes could never get the stops they needed to get over the hump ultimately dropping yet another game in frustrating fashion.

Ohio State started slow from the floor, hitting only 1 of their first 7 shot attempts as a pair of three’s triggered a 10-4 Michigan advantage. Bruce Thornton cut into the lead, getting to the rim off the bounce and scoring off the window, but a Michigan bucket prior to the first media timeout sent the teams to the benches with the Wolverines holding an early 12-6 lead. The Buckeyes stormed back out of the timeout. Sean McNeil drilled a short corner jumper and on the next possession, Brice Sensabaugh hit a jumper from the free throw line. After a Michigan turnover, Sensabaugh split a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 1. Michigan stopped the 5-0 Ohio State run going on a 5-0 run of their own to go back up 6. That run got halted when Gene Brown drilled a triple from the left corner, cutting the lead in half. Michigan answered the Ohio State three with one of their own and at the under 12 media timeout, Michigan held a 20-14 lead. Out of the timeout, Michigan drilled a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 8 and after a Buckeye miss, another Michigan hoop upped the lead to 10. Sueing split a pair of free throws stopped the 7-0 Wolverine run 9 and after a Michigan miss, Sensabaugh buried a pair of freebies to trim the lead to 7. A Michigan bucket sent the teams to their respective benches for the under 8 with the Wolverines on top 26-17. Out of the timeout, Sensabaugh knocked down two more freebies to cut back into the lead. A Michigan triple extended the lead back to 10, but a Sueing jumper in the paint and a Thornton pullup cut the lead back to 6. Back came the Wolverines, scoring the next 5 prompting Ohio State to call timeout with 6:01 to play in the first half with Michigan opening up a 34-23 lead. Thornton drilled a three from the left wing on Ohio State’s first possession out of the timeout and after a Wolverine miss, a Thronton floater dropped in the middle of the paint and a technical foul was awarded to the Michigan bench. McNeil split the two technical free throw attempts to trim the lead to 5. After a Wolverine turnover, a pick and roll with McNeil feeding Key for a short jumper and Ohio State trailed by 3. The 8-0 Buckeye run was stopped when a defensive lapse led to a Michigan lay up and at the under 4 media timeout, Michigan led 36-31. A Thornton 15 footer brought Ohio State a little closer but Michgan scored the next five to back up 8. Sueing ended the run with a triple from the left point and after a defensive stop, Ohio State ran the remainder of the clock and some confusion caused a Sueing forced three which missed everything, ending the half with Michigan leading 41-36. The Wolverines shot 52% from the floor including an uncharacteristic 5 of 13 from long range, while Ohio State shot just 34%, including 3 of 9 from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes lost the battle in the paint 16-8, but outscored Michigan 6-0 on points off turnovers as Ohio State turned it over just once in the first half compared to 5 for Michigan. Bruce Thornton led Ohio State with 11 first half points and Justice Sueing added 8 and Brice Sensabaugh 7 to go along with 6 rebounds. Michigan put 3 in doubles in the first half, with Hunter Dickinson leading the way with 13, while Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard adding 10 each.

Michigan got on the board first to start the second half but back came Ohio State. Sueing hit a 15 foot jumper and a steal and score by Thornton cut the lead to 3. A Michigan bucket was answered by Ice Likekele’s short jumper off the window, but a Michigan triple before the under 16 put the Wolverines on top 48-42 with 15:54 to play. After a defensive stop, Sueing drilled a fade away jumper from the left baseline to cut the lead to 4, but a Michigan answer put the Wolverines back up 6. Sensabaugh drilled a left wing triple to cut the lead back to 3, but the lead went back to 7 after back to back Dickinson point blank scores and Ohio State took a timeout with 12:52 to play and the Wolverines leading 54-47 as Hunter Dickinson was dominating inside scoring the last 6 and 21 for the game. Out of the timeout, a questionable offensive Sensabaugh foul turned it back over to Michigan and another Wolverine hoop stretched the lead to 9. Roddy Gayle knocked down two free throws to stop the 6-0 Michigan run and cut the lead to 7, but after a stop each way, Dickinson scored in the paint again to put Michigan back up 9. Gayle split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 8, but a Michigan triple matched the largest Wolverine lead thus far, going up 11. McNeil drilled a deep jumper from the wing and with 7:52 to play, Michigan led Ohio State 61-52. A Michigan triple extended the lead to 12, but a Thornton triple answered and kept Ohio State within arms length. Four straight Michigan points preceded a Sensabaugh baseline jumper, but with just over 5 to play, time was running out. A Michigan score followed by a Thornton jumper and Ohio State took a timeout, trailing 70-59 with 4:41 to play. A pair of free throws by Michigan had the Wolverines enjoying a 13 point lead as time was winding down. Sensabaugh scored at the rim and after a pair of Wolverine free throws dropped. Sueing scored in transition after a Michigan miss cut the lead to 11, but with just over a minute to play, the game was all but sealed. A runner by Thornton cut the lead to 9, but Ohio State had to play the foul game and Michigan downed both. Another runner by Thornton preceded another foul, Sensabaugh’s fifth, fouling out for the second straight game and Michigan split the pair. Key scored at the rim to finish the scoring and the Buckeyes fell yet again. 

How bad is it? Ohio State has not played with a lead since the 13:07 mark of the first half of the Illinois game. That’s a stretch of nearly 107 minutes playing from behind or tied. That’s just not going to get it done. Whether it’s the Key injury or a chemistry issue on the floor, the season has just spiraled down faster than any other year in memory. It’s not a question of talent, it’s more so the blend of talent and the on floor chemistry. There are definitely more questions than answers at this point and right now, it doesn’t seem like they are going to be able to recover. It’s getting late in the season now.  Where do they go from here, nobody knows, but they will need to get back to work and try to put a couple of good games together at home next week to try to salvage what’s left of the season. It’s a sad but true tale of where Ohio State finds itself and who could’ve predicted this after where Ohio State was sitting after the win on New Year’s Day at Northwestern. 

Ohio State returns home to play host to Northwestern on Thursday night. Tip time is scheduled for 8 PM, airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris

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