Undefeated No More: Buckeyes top Michigan 56-53

By Kyle Rowland on January 13, 2013 at 5:49p

Ohio State made a statement, knocking Michigan from the ranks of the unbeaten

The jury has been out on the Ohio State Buckeyes. But after weeks of deliberations in Central Ohio a verdict has been reached.

The Buckeyes are for real.

Jumping out to a 29-8 first-half lead, Ohio State withstood a furious second-half rally by No. 2 Michigan to hand the Wolverines their first loss of the season, 56-53. Michigan, the lone remaining unbeaten, was attempting to become the No. 1-ranked team in the country for the first time in 20 years.

But a team that scores 81 points per game and features one of the most efficient offenses in the country was held to a season-low 53 points on 38 percent shooting from the field. Michigan had just eight assists on 18 field goals.

Columbus native Trey Burke, a national player of the year candidate, was largely shut down by Aaron Craft, the third time in four career games versus the Buckeyes that Burke has been ineffective. He finished with 15 points on 4 of 13 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and four turnovers.

“He makes me better, he makes me work,” said Burke, about his counterpart, Craft. “They’re a great defensive team. It’s my job to keep my head up and continue to get my teammates the ball.”

When Michigan faced a must-score possession, it still put the ball in Burke’s hands. Trailing by two in the final minute, Burke hoisted a three-pointer that went halfway down before popping out, essentially ending Michigan’s chances at a remarkable comeback.

“Some go in, some don’t,” Burke said. “I thought it was going in. It looked good. It went down and came out.”

Even though Las Vegas oddsmakers tabbed Ohio State as a slight favorite, conventional wisdom said the Buckeyes were an underdog. It was the first time in years that Thad Matta’s team faced such an uphill climb at home. When Michigan comes calling, though, the Buckeyes smell blood.

Since 2004, Ohio State is 25-4 against Michigan in football and men’s basketball. Matta alone is 17-3.

“It’s awesome,” Craft said. “It’s just a testament to Coach and the way he gets his players ready to play in big games. He does a phenomenal job getting us ready during the week in practice and on gameday. He’s one of the best coaches in the country.”

When the Buckeyes missed two easy baskets on their first possession followed by a Craft turnover, the scoreboard already read 3-0 in favor of Michigan. A minute of play was all that elapsed, but the preamble seemed to be going to form: Ohio State struggling against another ranked opponent.

But a 16-0 Ohio State run swayed the game. Michigan dug itself a hole that would only get bigger. The Buckeyes’ advantage would eventually grow to 21 points. The Wolverines, facing their biggest test of the season, looked too small when the moment arrived. There was disorganization on both ends of the court and a lack of composure.

“We haven’t faced adversity like this,” Burke said. “We came out too slow in the first half. We came out the second half the way we should have in the beginning, but it was too late. We had too many turnovers, a couple forced shots and they made us pay.”

Trey Burke and John Beilein's ears were ringing on Sunday.

Ohio State students camped out throughout the week to secure the best seats in the courtside student section. The tent village took on the name “Matta-ritaville.” The atmosphere was as good as any in recent memory at Value City Arena, which is often knocked for its sterile environment. Deshaun Thomas said he was “geeked” as the raucous sellout crowd tested Michigan’s mettle.

The scarlet-and-gray-clad faithful became much more subdued when Craft picked up his second foul with 6:39 left in the first half. It sent him to the bench and resulted in a run by Michigan that put it within striking distance.

The Wolverines ended the half on a 14-5 run, including scoring the final seven points. Ohio State led, 34-22. A bulk of the scoring came from an unlikely source, Spike Albrecht. The little-used freshman guard scored seven points in Michigan’s late first-half spurt.

Michigan continued chipping away at Ohio State’s lead in the second half, eventually tying the game at 46 with six minutes left. But the Buckeyes, as they did at Purdue on Tuesday, answered by scoring the next six points. The closest it would get the rest of the way is 52-50, when Burke missed his three-point attempt.

“Defensively, we got the stops when we needed them,” Matta said. “Guys had some big rebounds down the stretch for us. I thought we did a pretty good job of regaining our composure and scoring at the other end.”

In three losses against ranked opponents this season, the Buckeyes shot less than 34 percent. That trend ended on Sunday when Ohio State rattled home 44 percent of its shots from the field. In the first half, Ohio State shot 52 percent against a defense that had complicated matters for opponents all year.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Craft said, when asked about the three losses. “We hadn’t played our best against the better teams we had played this year. You just can’t lose at home. The worst thing we could do now is rest on this. It doesn’t get any easier.”

Michigan finally went to a matchup zone in the second half, which helped in its comeback. Ohio State only made eight field goals after the break. But three of them came in the 6-0 flurry to break a 46-all tie, propelling the Buckeyes to victory.

Craft only had one steal, but his defense turned into the theme of the day. Time and again, Burke wasn’t able to facilitate the offense as he usually does. He was also relegated to taking low-percentage shots. More often than not, they didn’t go in.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was limited to 12 points on 5 of 15 shooting, while reigning Big Ten freshman of the week Nik Stauskas had zero points.

“Ohio State is a really good defensive team,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “Really good.”

Thomas led the Buckeyes with 20 points. Included in that total was three 3s. Craft and Sam Thompson each had nine points, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 10 rebounds. Seven Ohio State players scored. Exactly half the Buckeyes’ points came in the paint.

All four remaining undefeated teams lost this week, including the top three, all on the road. Now it’s the Buckeyes that must navigate the unfriendly avenues away from Columbus.

At 3-1 in the Big Ten, though, a brief stopover in East Lansing seems far more inviting.

“We’ll be able to pull a lot out of this game,” Matta said. “Hopefully we’ll be a better team next Saturday than we were today. That’s the goal.”


Comments Show All Comments

ATXbucknut's picture

Great win, but geez do OSU's players seem to get winded in the 2nd half. We were up big at the half against both KU and Duke only to lose. We almost let this one slip away too. The staff needs to devise a better off-season conditioning regimen. When we are on, we are frickin' on. No one in the country can stay with us. We just can't sustain the defensive intensity and run out on the offensive breaks throughout the entire game. 
All that aside, congrats to a gritty win by an improving team.

Nick's picture

To be fair the bench was shortened today. Ross played all of 3 minutes?

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

To be fair to the players, Matta has never been a second half coach. He always has the Buckeyes ready to go in the first half of games and then it all dissappears after the break. It has been the main issue I've had with coach since he has been here. 
With the whining aside, great win Buckeyes. I got a lil nervous with about four minutes to go, but way to close it out today boyz!!!

gnesq1's picture

saw on the twitters, that the OSU Class of 2013 will have graduated without ever seeing a home loss to Michigan in either football or basketball.....and that in that Tressell Meyer and Matta are now a combined 27-4 against the wolverines.  

Orlando Pancakes's picture

Such a sweet victory. We finally got a signature win and Craft has been playing better offensively as of late. The second half lull wasn't fun to watch but they responded when it mattered. It looks like this team will continue to develop; now we just need to continue this on the road.

Triv's picture

Craft dotting Burke's eye on a pull up three was the best part of that first half. 

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

LouGroza's picture

I think there comes that time that they get complacent. Instead of all the hustle on defense and the extra couple passes on offense, they get lazy. That is inexperience and lack of cohesion with certain guys on the floor that do not play as well together as others. BUT they did what they needed to today and got the W. Nice job Bucks.

Triv's picture

Biggest play of the game was Shannon Scott swatting Trey Burke on a fast break, then OSU nailing a three. 5 point swing that halted a Michigan mini run and swung the momentum to OSU for good

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

Thomas played with some heart today along with Craft early. Thank god for our defense bc our offense unfortunately does not seem to realize the game is 40 minutes 

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

bukyze's picture

I think the most amazing stat is Matta's 17-3 record against scUM.  Pretty incredible .... and awesome!

GABuckeye's picture

I'd like to see more offense before I start calling the Bucks for real.  One of the better defensive teams I've ever seen, but holy cow their offense is frustrating to watch.

Nick's picture

Florida State-esque

SilverBulletNYC's picture

I love Thad! But with that said, something has to give when it comes to his teams having big leads and blowing it. It's completely frustrating.

The South will NOT rise again!

Nick's picture

Has been way more good than bad

Firedup's picture

Good thing we started off hot shooting the ball.  I think we were 10/16 at one point in the first half.  However the zone in the first half by scUM and Craft's second foul was a Double Whammy.  I felt like from that point on our offensive rhythm for the rest of the game was off whether it was man or zone we faced.  It was a good move by Belin and was disappointed that we could not get some easier and in rhythm threes like we did in the first half 

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM

sandytowne's picture

Good win today but I don't believe a three point win over UM at home proves the Buckeyes are "for real," although I guess it depends on what your definition of "real" is.  The team defense was very good, and is clearly the strength of this team.  However, the Buckeyes still lack scoring outside of Thomas which is going to be an issue come tourney time.  

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Yup. Sorry Kyle, but there is no way this game should've been close after the opening ass kicking. We have no half court game yet. Stupid passes. Forced shots. Balls ending up in the third row. If scUM wasn't so young, they probably pull off the win. Our D will keep us in games, but unless we can get open shots (and nail them) on a consistent basis, this will be a rough year. We have one player that can create his own shot. That won't work in Matta's system.

BME_Buckeye's picture

Ohio State students camped out throughout the week to secure the best seats in the courtside student section. The tent village took on the name “Matta-ritaville.”

How do you pronounce Matta-ritaville? Lol...

“Ohio State is a really good defensive team,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “Really good.”

He didn't call us Ohio, o my!!1

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


RBuck's picture

He didn't call us Ohio because he found out who Ohio is last year.

Long live the southend.

Jack Fu's picture

The Buckeyes are for real.

Well, depends on what you mean by that. They're certainly not elite. No second scorer has stepped up. Craft and Smith are still relatively low-usage offensive threats that don't even compensate for their low usage by being high-efficiency; they're both blah offensively. Ravenel works hard and gets some grunt points here and there; Williams still looks like he learned how to play basketball last week. Other than Thomas and Craft, everyone stinks at FTs. And no one else contributes, really. Lots of work still to be done. As long as the team looks like this, they're capable of beating good teams, but they're going to need great defensive performances.
That being said, they got such a performance today. Michigan is a no-question top-10 team, and a win over them will go a long way in determining OSU's case for the NCAAs (inclusion, seeding, etc.). Plus, I mean, beating Michigan is always awesome.

BuckeyeChief's picture

OT, but there was a nice catch by Posey just now.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

Nkohl13's picture

My favorite play was Ravenel clotheslining Hardaway Jr. It was at a point in the game where things were getting frustrating and I just wanted to hit a scUM player, but Rav did it for me.

iball's picture

The Buckeyes are for real?
For real what? 3rd or 4th place in the B1G? I mean this is a solid team but without the fast start this could of been a different game. Besides, who has UM played this year? How "for real" are they?
I for one didnt learn anything new about our boys today that I didnt already know.
Lets keep the homerism to a minimum.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Buckeye2005's picture

I saw some comments that Deshaun is hurt.  Can someone elaborate? 

Nick's picture

He said in postgame interviews that he is physically fine, just tooks some hits and was able to get back up.

bhardy22132's picture

Good win today but it seems like these guys push/force a TON of shots. And they once again blow a huge lead to make things interesting. Alot to learn from in this win hopefully they can get everything going and play complete games because they are def. not that great of a second half team.

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

Lenzelle had the big rebound and free throws to seal the win, but he threw the ball away a couple plays with really lazy passes. Would like to see him be more thorough and disciplined on the offensive side. Anyway, I'm nitpicking. Glad for a sweet W

Doc's picture

Slam denying the alley-oop was a great play as well.  Craft was gnat like.  Good game to build off of.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

buckz4evr's picture

We just bet the No 2 team in the country and some people are still not satisfied.  SMH

Clmm297's picture

I don't get it either....SMH
We accomplish what everyone has been asking for since the loss to Duke, and now it's still not enough.  Makes me wonder if we had 4 guys score 20 points in a loss if people would be happier?  WE WON THE GAME.  Isn't that the point?

GABuckeye's picture

I guarentee everyone is ecstatic with the win, but you can't possibly tell me there aren't a LOT of holes on this team.  The defense is stifling most of the time, but there are just too many long stretches where they just can't score.  

zbd's picture

No team I enjoy beating more than M, with Indiana a close second. Just proves a great effort and desire can trump talent alone. Now I'm looking forward for Matta to bring in top recruits. 

RedStorm45's picture

The offense is Thomas, transition, and some other random shots.  If I'm an opposing team, I go zone because we have no offense for it.  That said, this team can be a top defensive team when they play like they did today.

Nick's picture



kareemabduljacobb's picture

Saw on twitter Santonio Holmes was at the game as well.
View image on Twitter View image on Twitter

Brutus's picture

Oh the joys of being a miserable Buckeye fan who can only see the cup as always being half empty.  We just beat the previously undefeated #2 team in the country, which just happens to be f-ing M*chigan, and yet we bitch about what we aren't.  Look, I would love to have three guys who average double doubles. I would love to have a second, third, and fourth scoring option. I would love to be a senior-laden team that never makes mistakes.  I would love to be able to build a huge lead and maintain that lead for an entire game.  I would love for Thad Matta to have a .775 winning percentage (because apparently .774 isn't good enough). But guess what, we don't have any of that.  We have a good team that plays great at times which just gave us another fantastic win.  This is a rebuilding year, plain and simple.  The team is capable of winning the B10 or finishing 4th or 5th.  Whatever the case, it was a fun ride today and I'm expecting many more like it this season.  But hey, thank you Mr. non-homer keeping it real Buckeye fan.  Kudos to you for pointing out that we still suck.

Jack Fu's picture

I don't know if it's negativity, per se. I can't speak for what other people are thinking or doing, but my comment was intended as more of an attempt to temper expectations, in response to comments such as "the Buckeyes are for real" and "this is an elite team," etc. I totally agree with you that we have a "good but not great team." I totally agree that this was a fantastic win. No one - no one - is saying that the team "sucks." But the holes that we've all lamented are still there; the Bucks just happened to overcome them in this game. And thank goodness.

GABuckeye's picture

I don't think anyone is whining over a win.  Look at it this way - do you think Matta is satisfied with the way the offense plays?  If he's content on not getting any better, he's not doing his job, so we as fans aren't doing our jobs if we don't expect more out of the offense.  I say the same thing to UGA football fans - if they're content on being a 2nd tier SEC team, they got their man in Mark Richt as their head coach.  If they want to get over that hump, they need to hire a Nick Saban, an Urban Meyer, a Les Miles.  Never settle.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

A lot of negativity on here, this is an elite team.  Duke was #1 we went toe to toe with them but came out short.  The same thing happened to Kansas.  Elite IMO means that you are one of the best teams in the country top 10 maybe top 5 definitely qualifies as elite.  Well we are a top 10 team and as we will continue to grow we could be top 5.  Granted we have offensive flaws and can be exposed when we play against size inside but don't downplay this win folks, we just beat one of the best teams in the country.  

GoBucks713's picture

I'm not sold on scUM being an Elite team yet. And I'm not sold on OSU being an Elite team either. Lets give it a few weeks and see what happens to this team as the B1G schedule gets going, with our next game against Sparty at the Breslin Center, lets see how good these guys are. One thing I'm actually glad about this season is that OSU only has Minnesota at home. Those guys are good. The Februrary schedule looks like murder with the last two games in March being @ Assembly Hall and home with Illinois. I'm just not big on this team losing less than 4 in the B1G this year. Unless someone really steps up as a consistant scoring threat and Amir finally gets it on the defensive end, this team is going to be #3 in the B1G at best.

-The Aristocrats!