Buckeyes Hold Off Michigan in Ann Arbor

By Chris Lauderback on January 12, 2011 at 8:46p

William Buford led four Buckeyes in double figures with 19 and Ohio State survived a prolonged field goal drought by hitting 11/14 free throws over the final 8:37 to outlast Michigan 68-64 tonight in Crisler Arena.

Jared Sullinger played his worst game as a Buckeye getting exposed defensively as Michigan forced him to guard on the perimeter when employing a smaller lineup. He was late on quite a few defensive rotations while turning it over six times at the offensive end. He did manage 12 points, seven boards and three assists before fouling out but I'm sure he'll say tonight was a bit of a struggle.

David Lighty added 12 points and five boards but continued his career long troubles at the stripe converting just 6/13 though he deserves credit for continuously driving the lane in a 2nd half in which the Buckeyes failed to consistently click on offense.

OSU appeared to be in the driver seat after unleashing a 12-0 run to break open a 41-41 game. Sullinger started the blitz with a putback of a Craft miss and Lighty added a layup following a Michigan turnover. After the teams combined for five straight empty possessions, Sullinger found Diebler in the corner out of a double team for three to make it 48-41 good guys. After two more empty possessions from Michigan, Sullinger got loose for a dunk with a nice spin move to his right before Aaron Craft drew a charge at one end and buried a triple at the other pushing the Buckeye lead to 53-41 with 11:37 left in the game.


The run was sparked by a renewed energy at the defensive end as Ohio State forced seven turnovers and 2/7 shooting to start the half. Playing at home in front of Brady Hoke, the Wolverines answered with a 12-5 run however, during which Sullinger hit OSU's last field goal of the night at the 8:37 mark, cutting the lead to 58-53.

The Buckeyes would score four straight points on 4/4 free throw shooting from Sullinger and Lighty to move in front 62-53 but Michigan again answered with a run, this time a 9-2 spurt, trimming the lead to 64-62 with :22 left. With Michigan forced to foul, Buford calmly drilled two free throws and after Darius Morris hit a layup with 12.4 to play, the Wolverines were forced to foul again sending Craft to the stripe. The gritty freshman promptly buried both tosses giving the Bucks a 68-64 lead to close the deal.

Though they hit just 12/19 free throws in the 2nd half, the Bucks connected when it mattered most with the aforementioned 11/14 FT's over the final 8:37 and used timely defense to remain undefeated. Michigan hit 7/14 triples in the opening half but cooled off a bit going 4/10 in the final 20 minutes. The Buckeyes also forced eight 2nd half miscues after Michigan turned it over just four times in the 1st half. Additionally, after allowing UM to shoot 57% in the 1st half, OSU held Michigan to 48% in the 2nd. Even with the 2nd half improvements, Thad can't be pleased with the overall defensive intensity shown tonight. 

Offensively, the Bucks shot 52% from the floor on the night including 7/14 from downtown while committing just 10 turnovers. The also won the glass 24-21 but hit just 68% from the stripe (17/25) overall.

Buford scored 14 of his 19 in the opening half on 5/8 shooting and keyed a 12-2 run that turned a 16-10 deficit into a 22-18 lead with 8:13 left in the half. The WB started the run finding Diebler for a triple then Diebs returned the favor finding Buford for a trey on the ensuing possession before hitting two free throws on OSU's next trip down the floor. After a dunk from Sullinger made it 20-18, Buford capped the run with a putback of a Craft triple try. The four point lead was the biggest of the half as Michigan stayed close on the strength of the 7/14 from distance. The Buckeyes eventually took a 35-34 lead at the break.

Dallas Lauderdale played just seven minutes mostly due to the fact Michigan went small combined with the fact Buford struggled to stay with Morris defensively. This paved the way for Craft to log 32 minutes, scoring 10 points including 2/4 from distance with two turnovers. He had a few issues but overall the kid continues to impress. He's getting more confident with his shot and though Morris did put up 18 points and eight dimes, Craft held his own helping force five Morris turnovers. He's also proving money at the line late in games which is obviously huge considering he's likely to have the ball in hands down the stretch.

The win improves OSU to 17-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play with three of those coming on the road. Ohio State has won 12 of the last 14 against Michigan, all under Matta. Combined with Tressel's 9-1 mark, the two coaches are 21-3 against our supposed rival.

The Buckeyes return to VCA for some home cooking as they play host to Penn State this Saturday at 5:30pm then Iowa next Wednesday. Following what should be two relatively easy victories, OSU enters a tough stretch that will pose a major threat to their perfect record with games @ #16 Illinois, home against #8 Purdue and @ Northwestern to round out the January calendar.


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Chris Lauderback's picture

Florida State leading Duke 40-29 with 14min left in 2nd half...

M Man's picture

This is a weird question but were any of the 11W guys at the game tonight?  I sat next to a group of rather smart, cheerful, friendly Buckeyes.  Which blows up a lot of preconceived notions on my part.

This was a 4-pt. win that could have been a 14-pt. win, or a loss, for the Buckeyes.  This was not nearly the best effort Michigan has put out this year.  And at the same time, I just don't see how anybody in the Conference beats you guys.  Had Michigan had one of its best shooting nights, I think your W is a L.  But there's not a player on our roster equipped to be on the same floor as Sullinger.  And your guys are easily the most composed, mature team we've seen this year, without exception.

Chris Lauderback's picture

No members of the staff were there tonight. Not sure about any of our classy readers. I attend nearly all the home games but not the roadies.

I've seen Michigan play better than they did tonight. The same is true for OSU. Though some of our fanbase is concerned about the recent tight games, I personally like it because while I do agree it's nice to have a veteran team with more balance than last year, there's still some question late in games as to who takes over offensively. So far, the Buckeyes haven't excelled down the stretch in tight games though they've won and the lack of a decided go-to guy seems to be a factor. Zero FG's in 8+ minutes on the road spells trouble against stiffer competition.

As for Michigan, Darius played much more under control than I expected with the #2 team in the house. He wasn't flawless but still impressed me. To your point, UM would've needed to shoot better but damn, they shot lights out in the first half and 52% for the game. In fact, I heard that's the best Michigan has shot in a loss in five years. That's pretty good against a Buckeye defense that has been solid.

buckeyedude's picture

Being from Toledo, I(and my son and friends) could not resist suiting up in scarlet and grey for the 40 minute drive north and the $15 tickets! That's a steal!

UM student section was pretty lively and excited about Brady and family.



Matt's picture

Those must have been fans from a different Buckeye blog.  11W guys exclusively poop in coolers before/during/after Michigan-OSU games.

Michigan has number of dynamic players this year.  I think Coach B is very close to bringing Michigan back to a consistent top 15-20 program.  Matta needs to teach his boys to play all 40 minutes long, and not just in spurts of greatness followed by 5 minutes of no field goals.

Dean's picture

We may be #1 in 53 seconds of game time...

Chris Lauderback's picture

hells yeah...FSU tried to fold after leading 40-29 but looking good now. Need these free throws.

Alex's picture

Duke down 3 with 50 secs left ESPN!

Chris Lauderback's picture

And Duke goes down...#1 folks. But for how long? @ Illy, Purdue and @ Northwestern coming up after both PSU and Iowa at home.

Dean's picture

Schadenfreude time!  Even better that we beat FSU pretty badly in Tallahassee!

gravey's picture

Bucks gotta work on that inlet pass to the post.  How many turnovers have we gotten trying to get the ball to Sully down low?   Morris was jawing a lot tonight.  More odd officiating.

painterlad's picture

Odd?? In the last 10 minutes of the games, I turned to my son and said "Michigan is getting homered at home." He, of course, thought I was making some sort of Simpson reference and laughed. That too was odd.

Man, I need some coffee.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

The_Lurker's picture

Fouls were pretty even until the final minutes when they were putting us on the line.

There was a cheap blocking call that probably was a no-call that went against UM down the stretch, but I think overall Michigan got rewarded for a few flops, and they were obviously trying to get a cheap T on Sully after one of them. Yeah, they were yapping at us a bit, and getting under the opponents' skin is part of the game, but I don't like that aspect of it. Our guys seem to let their play do the talking most of the time, which is the classy way to go and I'm sure something that Thad stresses.

Corey Carpenter's picture

Another good road win for the Buckeyes, but there is a growing concern for the lack of ability to score down the stretch, they can't rely on FT's every game. We saw tonight that Sully can't get into any foul trouble during important games.

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

Great win. Love Matta, but I see him tightening up the bench again. Please keep getting Lauderdale and Deshaun some minutes during these pressure games. The more Dallas sits, the more his confidence and comfort will erode. And you know we will need him to step up big at some point during the tourney.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

The difficult thing with Dallas is his free throw shooting has cost him playing time.  If that guy could make the free throws he would play more.  I am more than HAPPY to see him on the bench near the end of a close game.

The_Lurker's picture

I liked that even on a particularly tough night and in some foul difficulty, Sully still got a dozen points and seven rebounds. I'm not sure he wasn't fouled on at least two of those turnovers (possibly more). Only four games into his Big Ten career and still learning. I want Cam Heyward to talk to this kid right after the season and persuade him to come back.