Michigan junior Tim Hardaway, Jr. has spent much of the 2012-13 season proving that he has become more than just a three-point shooter in his third year in with the Wolverines.
But on Tuesday night, he leaned on that three-point shot again and led No. 3 Michigan to a grueling 76-74 overtime win against No. 10 Ohio State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Over a two-minute stretch in the middle of the second half, Hardaway, Jr. hit threes on three straight possessions, pulling Michigan from five points down to two points up, 52-50, with 10:16 to play.
He hit another two threes in the half, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-14 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from distance.
The focus Tuesday, too, was the point guard matchup between Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.
In no place was that better exemplified than on three straight possessions in overtime when Craft stripped Burke with 0:26 to play, only to be stripped by Burke on the fastbreak in the other direction.
Ohio State retained possession, but a jumpshot by Craft was blocked by Burke and grabbed by Michigan to preserve a 75-74 lead. Craft then fouled Glenn Robinson III, giving the Wolverines a chance to go up by three with free throws. Robinson III hit one of two free throws, allowing Ohio State one more possession.
Craft drove the length of the floor with Burke on his hip, going in for the layup before being blocked by Hardaway, Jr. Craft and the Ohio State bench were looking for a foul after what appeared to be a lot of contact around the rim, but there was no call as time expired, giving Michigan the victory.
Craft finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, while Burke had 16 points and eight assists.
In the first half, Michigan’s hot shooting got the Wolverines out to a 13-4 start, thanks to aggressiveness in attacking the basket and three-pointers from Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.
Robinson III showed he could bounce back after an Indiana game where he looked to be more out of sorts than at any other point in the season. He finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
Ohio State then tightened up on defense with the help of Craft. That defensive effort allowed the Buckeyes to get out in transition.
Eight Buckeyes scored in the first half, led by Deshaun Thomas’ seven points. Though Ohio State spread the ball around, Thomas still had a similar percentage of the Buckeyes’ overall scoring with his team-high 17 points on the night.
The problem was, though, Thomas did not score and was not the focus of an offense that struggled to score just one basket in overtime. Craft was 1-of-4 from the floor in the extra period with a turnover.
To OSU’s credit, though, Thomas is typically counted on for the bulk of the scoring. Tuesday night, LaQuinton Ross had one of the best games of his career with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. also scored in double figures.
Mitch McGary brought the interior toughness that Michigan needed, tallying 10 of his 14 points in the first half and adding six rebounds.
The Wolverines then began to find the hot-shooting Hardaway, Jr., though they struggled to get stops on the defensive end. He hit another two three-pointers to keep it close, but Ohio State exploited Michigan’s lack of size inside.
The Buckeyes worked the ball inside to Amir Williams on consecutive possessions, resulting in a layup and dunk to pull Ohio State ahead, 64-60, with 5:12 to play.
After trading baskets down the stretch, Lenzelle Smith, Jr. hit a jumper with a hand in his face to tie the game at 72-72 with 0:29 to play, ultimately forcing overtime.