When Trey Burke stepped up and hit a three-pointer on Michigan’s opening possession Sunday against Ohio State, it looked like the Wolverines were on the right track. Score early, score often, and get a win on the road.
But things quickly went down hill from there.
No. 15 Ohio State ripped off a furious 16-0 run over the next 4:40 to securely take the lead and fought off a second-half comeback from No. 2 Michigan to get a 56-53 win at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio State lead grew to as much as 21, at 29-8, with 6:52 remaining in the first half, helped along by Michigan’s nine first-half turnovers.
Those turnovers sparked the transition game for guard Aaron Craft and forward Deshaun Thomas. Craft finished with nine points and four assists. Thomas led the offensive attack and was the lone scoring option in crunch time with 20 points on the afternoon.
Slowly but surely, though, Michigan fought back to pull within eight points, 37-29, five minutes into the second.
As Tim Hardaway, Jr., Glenn Robinson III, and Nik Stauskas struggled to shoot a combined 2-of-13 through the first 25 minutes, back-up guard Spike Albrecht (seven points) teamed with Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke (15 points, four assists) to keep the Wolverines in it.
Ohio State’s defense was key to disrupting Michigan’s powerful trio of scorers in the first half and held one of the NCAA’s best field goal percentage offenses to just 38 percent shooting, 13 percentage points below its average.
But the Buckeyes could only keep those scorers contained for so long.
Behind a 4-of-4 shooting stretch from the floor by Hardaway, Jr., Michigan went on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 46-46 on a three-pointer from Robinson III with 5:58 remaining.
In response, Ohio State worked the ball to the rim to Evan Ravenel and Thomas, both guarded by smaller defenders. The lead grew to six points, 52-46, with 4:11 remaining.
A Robinson III steal and dunk cut the Ohio State lead to two points with 1:16 to play, but that is as close as Michigan would get. Free throws from Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., sealed the victory.