With 2:37 left in the Michigan men’s basketball team’s matchup against Ohio State last night, the Value City Arena scoreboard malfunctioned. For a moment, the Wolverines were down 63-0.
It was just one of those nights.
For the second time this season, Michigan (4-5 Big Ten, 14-7 overall) fell to its archrival, this time in a 72-54 defeat.
The day started with snow falling so hard Ohio State canceled class. The game would have followed suit, but the officials were able to make it to the game.
Once the game started, it got worse. In the first half, Michigan had 12 of its season-high 21 turnovers.
The Buckeyes (4-4, 14-5) started the game on a 19-4 run before Michigan sophomore Manny Harris could notch any of his eventual team-high 22 points.
“They played tremendous defense,” Michigan coach John Beilein said through the Athletic Department. “Ohio State came out very early and set a tremendous tone for how they were going to play. We had trouble with turnovers early. If you don’t know, we are one of the leaders in the country in not turning the ball over.”
Ohio State’s relentless full-court press was a major contributor to the Wolverines’ excess turnovers.
“When we have attacked full-court pressure, we’ve been good at it and we were very good in the second half,” Beilein said. “Manny (Harris), who has been doing a great job of taking care of the ball, had a tough day handling the ball. Some of those were unforced and some of them we threw right to Ohio State.”
Beilein also felt the frustration. With twenty-four seconds before halftime, a normally level-headed Beilein picked up his first technical foul of the season after arguing with a referee. Beilein wanted a charge called on Ohio State sophomore forward Dallas Lauderdale.
The second-year Michigan coach rarely loses his composure, but he had reason for frustration. Michigan played its worst half of the year, shooting a season-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range and scoring a season-low 18 points. Only three Michigan players scored in the first half (Harris, junior DeShawn Sims and redshirt freshman Laval Lucas-Perry) while Ohio State poured in 20 points in the paint alone. After dominating Michigan during their win on Jan. 17, Buckeye center B.J. Mullens and Lauderdale went back to work, combining for 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
And in the second half, there was another ugly moment.
With 1:25 left in the game and Ohio State’s Evan Turner at the line, Michigan forward Zack Novak tried to box out Buckeye P.J. Hill. While doing so, he stuck his elbow into Hill’s face, leading to a scuffle between the two teams. The officials reviewed the play and called Novak for a flagrant foul, which meant an automatic ejection. The fight was a clear sign of frustration.
“I have to watch it on film, what exactly happened, before I make any comment on it,” Beilein said. “But I think it was a box-out with elbows high and we’ll see. If it was overly aggressive, then we will learn a valuable lesson.”
Aside from the messy finale, Michigan played far better in the second frame, equaling Ohio State’s scoring output during that span. The Wolverines shot the ball better, too, hitting 7-of-15 from the arc in the final 20 minutes. But the Buckeyes gave Michigan no window, matching the Wolverines basket for basket.
Turner controlled the tempo all night. He scored 24 points using an array of floaters, spin moves, crossovers and bank-shots. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and collected a pair of steals and blocks.
If Michigan wants to dance in March, it has to take care of business away from Crisler Arena. With games against three ranked teams in the next two weeks, tonight was the perfect opportunity.