Jordan Poole has had big performances before.
The freshman guard scored 19 against Indiana, and he had 11 in East Lansing.
Sunday afternoon was a bit different though. It was Senior Day, Crisler Center was sold out and the Michigan men’s basketball team hosted No. 8 Ohio State — the team who beat the Wolverines via a huge comeback in December — in a vital game in the homestretch of the season.
And Poole showed up on the biggest stage of his young career, helping the team to a 74-62 win.
The Wolverines (11-5 Big Ten, 22-7 overall) led the Buckeyes (13-3, 22-7) a majority of the game, but the lead felt fragile. So with 6:25 left and the Wolverines hanging on to a five-point lead, insurance points felt necessary.
That’s when senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman drove into the lane and kicked out to Poole in the right corner. The freshman collected himself, rose up and buried it before running back on defense with his arms in the air, taking in the scene around him.
Three minutes after Poole’s shot, Abdur-Rahkman hit an open three of his own to make it 65-53 to essentially put the game away.
It was a winning combination for Michigan all night. Poole, with his electric personality and flashy style of play, hit big threes and urged the crowd to get excited. Abdur-Rahkman, with his calm, workmanlike demeanor, made the plays the Wolverines needed to win. The pair led the team in scoring. Poole finished with 15 points, and Abdur-Rahkman had 17.
From there, Michigan simply iced the game away, 74-62.
“When they cut it to four and had a foul shot, and I think they cut it to three, we made just about every good play down the stretch to get the ‘W’.” Beilein said. “I was really proud of the way we battled the whole time.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair.
Poole dazzled for Michigan in that half too. With 6:05 left before halftime, he drove right on Ohio State guard Kam Williams, stopped on a dime, stepped back to create space and drilled a 3-pointer over Williams, who fouled Poole in the process.
The play exhibited the raw skill Poole possesses and also the spark he gave the Wolverines, as he led all scorers with 12 of his 15 points coming in the first 20 minutes.
“The first (shot) felt great,” Poole said. “So I was just, kinda, liking my shot a little bit. I had confidence once they started dropping.”
On the other end, the Buckeyes worked more methodically. Forward Jae’Sean Tate nearly had a double-double in the first half alone, accruing eight points and eight rebounds. All the action ultimately led to a 5-point Michigan lead at halftime.
The second half began similarly. Ohio State flexed its muscles on the inside, but the Wolverines stayed ahead.
That’s how it was when Poole toed the 3-point line in the right corner, sending Crisler Center into hysterics and Michigan to its 22nd win of the season.
“The first game had me and everybody else on the team sick, only because we were up by 20,” Poole said. “And then, we just knew we had to get this one. It was more of a, ‘We’ve got to get revenge game,’ instead of it being a top-20 team and a top-10 team.
“… We feel we’re better than them, especially with the performance we put on at Ohio State. We just feel we had to get that win.”