COLUMBUS Maybe the Wolverines shouldn”t have shown up last night.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker called the game his team”s “worst performance of the season,” as No. 20 Ohio State outhustled and outplayed the Wolverines, 69-47, on national television in front of 18,103 at Value City Arena.
For first-place Ohio State (6-0 Big Ten, 15-2 overall), it was its 13th straight conference win and its seventh consecutive win over Michigan, dating back to 1999.
“Our players knew everyone in the nation was watching this,” said Ohio State coach Jim O”Brien, who has mentioned how his Buckeyes deserve more respect in the polls. “They were really pumped up going into this one”
For Michigan, it was an entirely different story.
“You need to show poise, patience and toughness in situations like this,” Amaker said. “And we didn”t show any of those three.”
Sound harsh? Michigan”s players echoed the sentiments.
“They were definitely tougher than us today,” said senior tri-captain Chris Young. “When there was a loose ball, they were on the ground and then we were on the ground.”
But surprisingly, Michigan (3-4, 7-9) hung with the Buckeyes for the first 18 minutes, with a Dommanic Ingerson 3-pointer giving the Wolverines a 23-21 lead with 2:18 to play in the half.
But that was the beginning of the end. Ohio State went on an 8-0 run to end the half, which Amaker said “was the difference in the game.”
The Buckeyes started the second half where they had left off in the first, playing fundamentally sound basketball and converting on both ends of the floor. Ohio State guard and Detroit native Brent Darby hit three 3-pointers in a matter of minutes, as the Buckeyes jumped out to a daunting 46-29 advantage with just over 12 minutes to play.
The Wolverines could only respond with turnovers, poor ball movement and offensive futility. Their offense sputtered, crashed and burned like a broken-down 1989 Dodge Dynasty, especially at the end of the game. In tying a season-low with 47 points, the Wolverines shot a dismal 25 percent and dished out a season-low six assists five of which came from the hands of Avery Queen.
LaVell Blanchard led Michigan with 11 points on 4-15 shooting. Ingerson and Bernard Robinson combined for 4-17 from the floor and were plagued by some poor shot selections.
On the other hand, Ohio State”s backcourt of Darby, Brian Brown and Boban Savovic combined for more scoring than the entire Michigan team with 48 points. And the rest of the Buckeyes gave Michigan a clinic in fundamentals.
Ohio State had only seven turnovers all game to go along with 17 assists.
“They just don”t make mistakes and don”t shoot themselves in the foot,” Young said, “And the way we played, that”s not how you beat a team like that.”