For the first time since late November, the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (22-7, 13-3) lost their second-straight game. Following the blowout defeat at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions on Thursday, the Buckeyes fell on the road to the No. 22 Michigan Wolverines (22-7, 11-5), 74-62, on the Maize and Blue’s Senior Day.
Before the game started, the Columbus Dispatch’s Adam Jardy reported that OSU’s freshman big man Kaleb Wesson entered the gym in a walking boot. However, the former Mr. Ohio Basketball started the game, and looked no worse for ware on the floor.
Kaleb Wesson just arrived with a walking boot on his left ankle. #Buckeyes here now at the Crisler Center.— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) February 18, 2018
Early on, both teams struggled to get their offenses going. Michigan came into the game leading the Big Ten, and ranking in the top-10 nationally, in points allowed per game. The team does it by minimizing opponents’ possessions and forcing turnovers. Heading into the first media timeout, the Bucks had already turned it over four times. At the under-16 break, the score was tied at eight.
Coming out of the break, Chris Holtmann mixed up the lineup with Kyle Young and Kam Williams getting on the floor. While the action was still a bit sloppy, it seemed to increase the intensity; highlighted by a scrum brought on by Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, that resulted in the third tie-up of the game.
This type of tough-nose game played to the strengths of Jae’Sean Tate, who had four points and four rebounds in the game’s first 12 minutes. Kaleb Wesson also seemed to be 100% as he was strong down low, picking up five points in the same time period.
*Extremely Quavo voice*— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 18, 2018
KALEB WESSON WITH THE POST MOVES pic.twitter.com/8E8uvRahq6
The Wolverines started the game missing their first five three-point attempts, but Jordan Poole and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman both hit triples in the second half of the first 20 minutes, then Poole hit another step-back three, and was fouled in the act by former Michigan Man Andrew Dakich. Poole completed the four-point play to give the Wolverines their largest lead of the the game at 24-18.
As has been the case with many of the games in the past month, Big Ten Player of the Year front-runner Keita Bates-Diop opened the game fairly slowly, connecting on only one of his first six attempts from the field.
However, Tate put back a Young miss to end a Michigan 9-0 run, cutting the lead to 26-20 with just under 5:00 remaining before halftime. Bates-Diop drew a foul on a fancy up-and-under, but only made one of the two free-throws; making him 1-4 so far on the day from the stripe.
Despite his struggles, KBD was able to hit a well-guarded three-pointer with just seconds remaining in the half to cut the home-team’s lead to 33-28 heading into intermission. The triple got Bates-Diop to eight points, tied with Tate for the most for a Buckeye in the half. Tate also led all players with eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Poole, who came off of the bench for Michigan, led all scorers with 12, having gone 3-4 from beyond the arc. The first half saw eight lead-changes and four ties, but it was the Wolverines that seemed to have the advantage through most of the first 20 minutes.
Both teams were shooting reasonably well— OSU was 11-27 (40.7%) and UM was 12-29 (41.4%)—, but the turnover battle was heavily slanted towards the Maize and Blue in the first half. While they had turned it over four times— though none in the last nine minutes of the half—, the Buckeyes had coughed it up nine times, leading directly to 13 points for Michigan.
With 18:29 left in the game, Tate picked up his ninth rebound of the game, moving him to 729 career rebounds, one better the the legendary Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek, for 10th all-time in Ohio State history.
After another scrum-turned-tie-up, Tate barreled through two defenders en route to an old-fashioned three-point play, cutting the Michigan lead to 36-34. The and-1 gave OSU a mini 6-0 run.
Jae'Sean Tate out here treating Michigan's basketball team like they're Michigan linebackers pic.twitter.com/rU0vFOWE8Z— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 18, 2018
Still a six point Michigan advantage, 47-41, at the under-12 second half timeout, Wagner picked up his third personal foul, sending him to the bench. However, his back-up, Jon Teske, played well in his stead.
Bates-Diop’s first-half struggles continued, as he was 2-11 from the floor eight minutes into the second half. After getting a breather, KBD returned to the floor with OSU down 55-48, and after getting a reprieve from an over-turned out-of-bounds call, Bates-Diop hit a three-pointer, his first points of the second half.
From there, continued sloppy play by the Buckeyes allowed Michigan to extend the lead to 60-52 following another Poole triple. In addition to turnovers, missed free-throws were a major factor in the Buckeyes’ deficit. With 5:00 left in the game, they had hit only nine of their 17 attempts (52.9%).
Ohio State missed 10-straight attempts from the field, and went more than five minutes without a bucket since Bates-Diop’s three. In that time, the Wolverines extended their lead to nine, 62-53.
Back-to-back possessions for the Wolverines put the game out of reach. Abdur-Rahkman hit another three-pointer, and then after a KBD missed three attempt, Wagner got a cherry-picking and-1 to put Michigan up 68-55.
Ultimately, the tale of this game was told in two stats. Michigan held an 11-point advantage in points off turnovers, and the Buckeyes shot a miserable 47.4 percent (9-19) from the free-throw line, despite averaging 73.9 percent on the season.
The other stat that stands out is that despite the fact that Bates-Diop finished with 17 points, he was just 5-17 from the field and 4-8 from the line. For the Buckeyes to reach the heights that they seemed destined for just a week ago, KBD will need to come back rejuvenated in the last week of the regular season.
Tate finished with a Herculean 20 points and 15 rebounds. The two were the only Buckeyes in double-figured. Conversely, four Wolverines eclipsed 10 points, Abdur-Rahkman (17), Poole (15), Zavier Simpson (13), and Wagner (12).
The Ohio State Buckeyes will return to the Value City Arena for their final home game of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 20, as they take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The game will tip at 7:00 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.