Ohio State's Road Losing Streak Extends to 12 After Comeback Bid Falls Short at Michigan, 73-65

By Andy Anders on January 15, 2024 at 2:23 pm

Ohio State's skid continues.

Despite a 16-0 second-half run that put the Buckeyes ahead by four after they were down by 12 in the period, Michigan closed with its own extended run of 13-4 to put the Buckeyes away 73-65.

The loss is Ohio State's third in a row when combined with defeats at Indiana and at home against No. 15 Wisconsin. It is the Buckeyes' 12th consecutive road loss dating back to Jan. 1, 2023.

OHIO STATE 28 37 65
MICHIGAN 37 36 73

Three-point shooting proved the main difference maker for Michigan, who knocked down 12 of its 23 attempts from distance, a blistering 52.2%. Ohio State struggled in that same department, going just 3-of-25 (12%).

Forward Olivier Nkamhoua led the charge with 20 points. Guards Terrance Williams II and Dug McDaniel followed with 18 and 15 points, respectively.

Bruce Thornton led the way in defeat for Ohio State with 19 points.

First half

Three-point shooting stood out as the top storyline in the first half. Ohio State shot a dismal 1-of-14 from outside while Michigan shot a gaudy 7-of-11. The Buckeyes shot just 32.3% from the field overall.

A bit of work from the mid-range kickstarted Thornton's offense in the early going, though he ultimately shot just 3-of-9 in the first 20 minutes. He dribbled himself into an open baseline jumper and later hit a floater over a Michigan defender to push Ohio State's early lead to 8-5.

The Wolverines were using three-point shooting to keep pace, however. Leading UM sharpshooter Terrance Williams II knocked one down from the left corner, then Nimari Burnett drew a shooting foul from outside the arc and converted two of the resulting three free throws.

Forwards Olivier Nkamhoua and Will Tschetter also collected triples to tie the contest at 13-13 with 11:41 left in the opening period, with Ohio State taking over three minutes between made field goals. Freshman forward Devin Royal, who missed time recently with an illness, broke the cold streak with back-to-back makes.

But then another three-minute stretch without a field goal, this time without points altogether, hit the Buckeyes. Michigan took advantage with an 8-0 run to pull ahead 21-15 before a baby hook from Felix Okpara stopped the bleeding.

Immediately Ohio State followed with one more three-minute stretch without a field goal. After Roddy Gayle Jr. made it a 21-19 ballgame off a pair of free throws, Michigan went on another 8-0 run – hitting two more threes – to go up double-digits at 29-19.

Thornton required both his and Ohio State's first made three of the game's proceedings to hit the rim twice and the backboard once before falling, breaking an 0-for-4 start against Michigan and a 1-for-16 stretch across roughly 2.25 games from three for the Buckeyes' star point guard.

Royal again provided some spark with an and-one layup and a loud celebration that cut OSU's deficit to 34-28, but a buzzer-beating three from star Michigan guard Dug McDaniel made it a 37-28 difference at halftime.

Second half

65 POINTS 73
25-66 (37.9%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 27-64 (42.2%)
3-25 (12%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 12-23 (52.2%)
12-14 (85.7%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 7-10 (70%)

Evan Mahaffey hit back-to-back shots off of smooth post moves to immediately cut Ohio State's deficit to five.

Following an 0-for-5 first half, star forward Jamison Battle then got to work to help chip away.

Finding a bit of space on the perimeter, he pump-faked, drove past a defender and took off from a few feet outside the restricted arc to soar around another man for a giant one-handed slam.

The next time he touched the ball he dribbled himself open for a deep right-wing three and nailed it to cut Michigan's lead to 43-39.

UM responded by pushing its lead back to eight, Gayle scored four points in a row including a sugary reverse layup.

In short order, Michigan grabbed its biggest lead of the contest off a couple more threes from McDaniel and Williams. But down 55-43 with 11:46 to play, the Buckeyes finally made their move.

Guard Dale Bonner got things going with a mid-range jumper before Thornton pushed through five points in a row, a triplet of them coming on an old-fashioned three-point play. Two Gayle free throws and a lob to Okpara for a layup later, the Buckeyes were within one point of the Wolverines for the first time since the game was tied at 15 with 11:09 remaining in the first half.

Then Okpara hit another layup and gave Ohio State its first lead since 11:25 remained in the opening period.

And the barrage didn't stop. Thornton canned an open triple from the right wing to cap a 16-0 Ohio State run that put the Buckeyes up 59-55 at the under-eight media timeout. Michigan didn't score for more than five minutes.

A bucket from Nkamhoua and a three from Burnett pushed Michigan back in front only for Gayle to emerge from a pile with the basketball for a two-handed slam, though a review was required to see that the shot clock should have reset for him. With 4:20 to play, OSU led 61-60.

It would be the final time the Buckeyes led.

Williams took a three that hit the heel of the rim, bounced higher than the backboard, landed back on the front of the rim and fell through. A McDaniel layup counted due to goaltending and two free throws from Tarris Reed capped a 7-0 Michigan run that put Ohio State on the ropes 67-61 with 2:26 left.

Williams stuck the dagger in with a triple that put the Wolverines up 72-65 in the final minute. 

What's next

Ohio State returns home on Saturday for its second meeting with Penn State this season. The Buckeyes will be looking to avenge an 18-point comeback defeat at the hands of the Nittany Lions on Dec. 9. Tipoff is at noon on BTN.

Game notes

  • The end of the first half saw a lineup that featured three of Ohio State's four true freshmen, those being guards Taison Chatman and Scotty Middleton alongside Royal.
  • Overall Ohio State stuck to a fairly tight rotation for the second game in a row, with only seven players seeing double-digit minutes and only six getting more than 12.
  • Ohio State's six assists were a season-low by three.
  • Unlike the Indiana and Wisconsin games, it wasn't ball security that cost the Buckeyes against Michigan as they won the turnover battle 9-4.
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