Othello Hunter and the Ghost of Jon Diebler awakened in the second half, leading five players in double figures, to pull away from Michigan 65-55 Tuesday night, keeping Thad's perfect record against the Wolverines in tact. Ohio State outscored Michigan 20-5 in the last 10:41, rediscovering the post entry pass and Othello Hunter finally got a chance to touch the rock with regularity.
The O-Faced Hunter scored 9 of his 15 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds, 6 of which came on the offensive end, recording his fourth double-double of the year and first within conference play. Hunter connected on 7 of his 11 shots and energized Ohio State's "sold-out crowd" with a couple highlight reel dunks.
Jon Diebler hopefully broke out of his season long slump by scoring 14 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 26 minutes of play. The mythical scorer from Sandusky hit 2 of 3 from deep and made all 6 free throws, his first FT attempts in six games. Diebler also had no turnovers and played one of his better defensive games.
Apparently Jamar's harsh criticism took a while to sink in, as Ohio State trailed 32-31 at half, sleepwalking through their third straight half of basketball. Anthony Wright scored all 8 of his points in the first, with DeShawn Sims and Kelvin Grady each chipping in with 6, as Michigan held the lead for the last 7:10 of the half. The Buckeyes could only muster 10 points in the last 8+ minutes of the first.
After Michigan connected on four three pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Ohio State's defense completely shut down Jon Belein's team, allowing just two field goals in the final 10:41. Ohio State held Michigan to 40 percent shooting for the game and committed only 2 fouls in the second half, leading to an 8-0 advantage at the free throw line in that span.
Jamar Butler continued his quest for POY honors with 10 points and 9 assists. He continued his recent shooting slump, hitting only 4 of 12 shots, but played all forty minutes for the third straight game. Jamar became only the second Buckeye to record 500 assists for his career and will look to break the mark of 516 over the next week.
Kosta Koufos actually showed emotion en route to his 12 points and 4 rebounds, benefiting from Ohio State's willingness to finally make a post entry pass. His 13 shot attempts were the most in conference play, although 5 were from behind the arc, his flash of meanness inside may get him one step closer to losing the "Softa" label.
David Lighty was the other Buckeye in double figures, as his smooth jumper connected 5 of 6 times for 12 points, to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 turnover in 38 minutes. IMO, Lighty needs to look for his shot more. I know he can get out of control on drives, but his shots from 14-20 feet are perfect form and he has made 9 of his last 13 shots.
Evan Turner was a non factor, going scoreless and turning it over 4 times in 14 minutes of action.
Notes: Jim Tressel, Jim Foster and Thad Matta are a combined 21-1 against Michigan... Ohio State shot 50 percent (12-24) in the second half... The Buckeyes held their 20th straight opponent to below 45 percent shooting... Give me your caption for the photo of Thad and EA.