Ohio State stayed on the road Sunday taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes were once again plagued by a slow start against the injury-depleted Wolverines, who entered the game on a five game losing streak, falling behind 9-2 at the first TV timeout.
Poor shooting and turnovers continued for Ohio State as Michigan was able to quickly extend their lead to 20 points. With D'Angelo Russell on the bench for an extended stretch due to a sore knee, Keita Bates-Diop stepped up to provide a mini-spark to the Buckeyes with a pair of three's.
Playing what was likely their worst half of basketball this season, Ohio State headed into the locker room trailing 39-23.
The Buckeyes were finally able to trim Michigan's lead back to single digits mid-way through the second half finding themselves down just seven at under eight timeout with the help of a 10-0 run. However, missed free throws key offensive rebounds by Michigan kept things just out of reach for Ohio State.
3 things we learned:
The Buckeyes continue to arrive late for early starts. Despite the extra rest of not having played in a week, Ohio State struggled early and found themselves digging out of a hole for most of the game. Michigan's hot start only made this worse. With momentum and a home crowd on their side, the Wolverines were able to control most of the game. If Ohio State is going to salvage anything from this season, they have to fix this immediately.
Ohio State has functionally zero post presence. The Buckeyes' big men issues on the offensive end are well documented and not going away. That was evident today, but was compounded by an extremely poor defensive effort. The Wolverines consistently won rebound battles and were able to get dribble penetration with ease. Ricky Doyle and Spike Albrecht aren't exactly All-American caliber players and it's scary to think the damage that a team like say, Wisconsin, could do to Ohio State. As hard as it is to believe, the Buckeyes actually miss Anthony Lee.
There is still some fight in this Ohio State team. Despite all their early struggles, the Buckeyes played some good basketball mounting their comeback attempt. Unfortunately falling behind 20 points on the road against a team that has a pulse is always going to make it tough to win. Ohio State is going to see much tougher teams than the Wolverines still this season, and if they can avoid the early struggles, they have more than enough talent to play with nearly anyone.