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Ohio State’s nightmare season continues with 77-69 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor

This edition of the rivalry on the hardwood featured two teams desperately searching for answers. One found them.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Completely contrary to typical college basketball trends, the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan last season resulted in both teams winning on the opponent’s home court. The Buckeyes beat Michigan 68-57 on Feb. 12, 2022 in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines came back and spoiled Senior Day for Ohio State on March 6, beating them 75-69.

This trend was bucked this afternoon, however, as the Wolverines (13-10, 7-5) defended home court and handed Ohio State (11-12, 3-9) its ninth loss over their last 10 games, 77-69. Hunter Dickinson led the maize and blue with 26 point and 11 rebounds over 36 minutes. Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard also scored in double digits with 13 and 16, respectively. Bruce Thornton led Ohio State with a career-high 22 points on 10-13 shooting over 36 minutes and also added two steals. Justice Sueing and Brice Sensabaugh also scored in double digits as well, with both going for 14 points.

Ohio State went with an older lineup of Thornton, Sean McNeil, Sueing, Isaac Likekele, and Zed Key, which meant leading scorer Sensabaugh came off the bench initially. Juwan Howard rolled with a starting five of Dug McDaniel, Bufkin, Terrance Williams, Jett Howard, and Dickinson.

The Wolverines hit five of their first 11 shots, and took a 12-6 lead into the first media timeout 4:52 into the game. Ohio State, on the other hand, hit two of their first eight shots en route to their six points. Dickinson was especially problematic for the Buckeyes, scoring a quick six points and grabbing two offensive rebounds.

Michigan extended their lead to 26-17 by the under-eight timeout with 7:58 to go. Ohio State had closed the gap to three points for a moment, but a quick 7-0 run by Michigan put some space (10 points of space, to be exact) between the Buckeyes and their foes to the north. Dickinson continued to be a matchup problem for both Key and Okpara, the latter of which picked up two quick fouls in two minutes of play.

UM went up by as many as 11 during the first half, but Ohio State outscored Michigan 13-7 over the final six minutes of the half to go into the locker room down just five, 41-36. Thornton got into the paint over and over for high-percentage looks, and led Ohio State with 11 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting. Dickinson had 13 first-half points for the Wolverines, but Bufkin and Howard each had 10 points apiece as well during the opening 20.

The Wolverines continued to keep the Buckeyes just out of reach, hanging on to a 48-42 lead at the first media timeout 4:06 into the second half. Bufkin continued his great day with another three-pointer to give Michigan that six-point lead right after Likekele had cut it to a three-point game moments earlier.

The Buckeyes once again got back within one possession with about 14 minutes remaining, but Michigan answered with three consecutive buckets from Dickinson, Dickinson, and Joey Baker to put them up 56-47 going into the second media timeout at the 11:34 mark. Neither Okpara nor Key had much success doubling Dickinson, and Bufkin knocking down three-pointers (a 29% 3PT shooter) forced Ohio State to go one-on-one below the basket more often than they would like.

Bruce Thornton’s three-pointer with 6:58 left got Ohio State back within nine points, but a blocking foul was immediately called on Gene Brown to send Dickinson back to the line and push the lead back out to double-digits.

Ohio State was unable to get back within one possession again, as the Wolverines continued to keep the Buckeyes at arm’s length for the entirety of the game. Ohio State never led in this game, and eventually fell to UM, 77-69.

If you weren’t around this afternoon to catch Michigan extend their winning streak over Ohio State to two games, here are a few key moments and runs that propelled the skunk bears to their seventh conference win of the season:

Gene Brown connects from deep, Howard answers

After Sensabaugh hit one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 12-11, Michigan answered with five consecutive points to make it 17-11 Wolverines again with 11:53 remaining in the first half.

But Gene Brown knocked down a three from the far corner — just his third triple of the season — to get the Buckeyes back within one possession, 17-14. However, Howard answered with a triple of his own at the other end to make it 20-14, and Dickinson knocked down a pair of free throws to put Michigan up 22-14 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.

Brown ended with three points and two rebounds over 14 minutes.

Wolverines extend their lead to double digits

Already leading 17-14 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Michigan scored seven consecutive points go up double digits:

It started with a Howard three-pointer from the right wing to make it 20-14. Then Dickinson was fouled below the basket by Brown, and knocked down both FT’s to make it 22-14. Bufkin closed the run with a difficult baseline floater over the head of Key to make it 24-14 with 9:50 remaining until the break.

Thornton goes on a run, Buckeyes cut it back to three

Ohio State fell behind by as many as 11 during the first half, but Thornton — who has struggled mightily since the calendar flipped to 2023 — scored seven consecutive points for Ohio State to get his team back in it. Thornton’s three from the left wing and then a floater over the head of Dickinson made it 34-28 with 4:50 remaining in the half, and then Michigan’s bench was assessed a technical foul.

McNeil hit one of the two free throws from the tech, and then a Key fadeaway from about 10 feet dropped to get Ohio State back within 34-31 with just over four minutes remaining in the opening frame.

Dickinson takes Okpara to school, extends UM lead

Neither Key nor Okpara had much luck stopping the 7-footer from Virginia, but Dickinson felt especially confident going up against the much thinner Okpara during Sunday’s game. After Sensabaugh cut Michigan’s lead to 50-47 with 14 minutes remaining, Dickinson backed down Ohio State’s freshman center on back-to-back possessions for relatively easy buckets, turning what was once a one-possession game back into a 54-47 lead for the home team.

Okpara finished the game with zero points on 0-3 shooting, four rebounds, and two fouls over 14 minutes.

McDaniel gives Michigan a double-digit lead once again

Like Bufkin, McDaniel has not shot the three-ball well this season, with both Michigan guards hitting fewer than 31% of their shots from long range. But today was different, with both knocking down multiple threes against the Buckeyes — usually with the shot clock dwindling.

McDaniel’s in particular were timely. His second three-pointer rung in with 9:26 remaining and gave the Wolverines a 61-50 lead over the Buckeyes.

Up Next:

Ohio State (11-12, 3-9) plays each of their next two games at home, starting with Northwestern (15-7, 6-5) Thursday night. The Wildcats are one of just two teams Ohio State has beaten in 2023, having defeated Northwestern 73-57 in Evanston back on New Year’s Day. Ohio State’s game vs. Northwestern on Thursday night will tip off at 8:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FS1.