Deshaun Thomas led the way for Ohio State in a win over arch rival Michigan. - Jamie Sabau
Michigan trailed big early, but after a huge comeback, a 6-0 Ohio State run and some clutch free throws helped the Buckeyes hang on late.
Deshaun Thomas shook off exhaustion, injury, and a hell-bent Michigan comeback to help lead Ohio State to a win over over the #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines, 56-53. Though Michigan were a much higher ranked opponent, John Beilein's young Wolverines teams were actually two point underdogs going into this one. Ohio State showed why early jumping out to a 28-8 lead, but a commendable second half effort from the Wolverines coupled with an uneven showing echoing previous collapses against Duke and Kansas made the final score far closer than it could've been. Trey Burke had a contested shot from three with just under 20 seconds to play to give Michigan a one point lead but his three just rimmed out. Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith both hit key free throws down the stretch to preserve the win leaving college basketball with no remaining unbeatens.
The story of this one had to be Ohio State's early extremely hot shooting, which carried over from their win in West Lafayette this past Tuesday. With 3:42 to go until halftime, the Buckeyes led 31-13, were shooting 59% from the field, and had forced eight Michigan turnovers. Thomas would finish with 20 points and 4 rebounds while Sam Thompson added 9 (including one of his trademark flying dunks; okay, two of his trademark flying slams), Aaron Craft 9, and Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams combining for 12 points and 7 boards. Tim Hardaway Jr started slow for the Wolverines, but finished with 12 trailing only Columbus native Trey Burke for the team lead with 15 points. Super sub Spike Albrecht helped chime in 7 points including several straight baskets which helped get Michigan back into it.
Ohio State opened the game in stark contrast to how they'd look for much for the first half. Amir Williams, as he's been prone to do at times, missed an easy put back, and Burke countered on the other end with an easy three. An early turnover also made it look as though the Buckeyes had come out a bit jittery.
That wouldn't last for long as the Buckeyes would capitalize on some Michigan turnovers of their own and explode to a 9-0 run. In less than five minutes of game time, Williams already had three boards and the Buckeyes looked to really be putting it on the Wolverines defensively. Keeping the energy at a high level, the Buckeyes epitomized the very best they'd looked probably all season – focusing on defense keyed transition basketball, keeping the pace high, and converting good looks. Before long, that 9-0 run was a 16-0 one.
Michigan stood shooting just 1-for-7 from the field with five turnovers at that juncture. After letting the Buckeyes effectively strip-and-shoot an entire season of frustrations into a twenty point lead, the Wolverines would finally reach double digits on the scoreboard with just under six minutes to go. The Wolverines would do their best to counter punch, and behind a suddenly red hot Albrecht, were able to minimize their mistakes and force their way back into the game. With their turnovers under control once again and Ohio State no longer able to tap into the same pickpocket ways that saw them record 16 of their first 27 points directly off steals, Michigan was able to go into the locker room down only 34-22.
The second half would continue to be more favorable for the Wolverines as they kept chipping away at Ohio State's double digit lead. Though Lenzelle Smith Jr was effectively out of the box score as a scorer, he did the majority of his damage on the glass and had some key rebounds which helped the Buckeyes keep their lead to around 8. The Wolverines would then find themselves and rediscover the fluid ball motion offense that has served them well all season. Suddenly that eight point deficit was just a 44-40 one.
Though Ohio State was up 29-8 at one juncture, the lead would ultimately find its way down to 48-46. Behind a suddenly on fire Hardaway and Trey Burke showing his usual brilliance, the Wolverines would tie it, before four straight from Ravenel and a clutch basket from a hobbling Deshaun Thomas would help Ohio State secure a comfortable lead once again. The Wolverines would have one last run left in them and get things down to two before Burke's shot rimmed out, securing the win over their arch rivals. The Buckeyes would in a sense go on to add insult to injury when 2014 DB Damon Webb (from Detroit) would give his verbal commitment to Ohio State over the Wolverines not even an hour after the game.
The Buckeyes will have six days to recover from what had to be an emotionally and physically draining rivalry game before they head to East Lansing to face Michigan State next Saturday evening at 6 p.m. EST.
|HARDAWAY JR,TIM *||12||1||5||1||1||1||5||15||1||2||1||6||40||-3|
|ROBINSON III,GLENN *||8||2||1||1||2||1||3||8||2||4||38||-4|
|SMITH JR.,LENZELLE *||4||1||10||1||4||2||1||4||2||2||2||30||-10|