A night of celebration ended in utter disappointment at Crisler Arena on Saturday.
While wearing blue replica jerseys to honor the 1989 National Championship team, the Michigan men’s basketball team suffered a gut-wrenching 65-58 loss to Ohio State. The defeat dropped Michigan from the Top 25 in both national polls.
Michigan made a 9-2 run to end the first half and cut the Buckeyes’ lead to four. And after a riveting ceremony to honor the 1989 team, with appearances by Sean Higgins, Mark Hughes, Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson, Crisler Arena was buzzing. The Wolverines fed off the extra energy and came back to take their first lead of the game with eight minutes left.
But the Buckeyes went on a 17-3 run and took a 57-47 lead with about a minute left, leaving fans and players stunned.
“I’m not sure (what happened),” said junior DeShawn Sims, who finished just 4-for-13 from the field.
Sophomore Manny Harris led all scorers with 21 points, while freshman Stu Douglass tied a season high with four 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes’ 1-2-2 matchup zone defense proved troublesome for the Wolverine offense, which mustered up just seven first-half field goals.
Ohio State’s tall, athletic guards, combined with a duo of big men in the paint, made it difficult for Michigan’s offense to establish a rhythm. In order to break the zone, the Wolverines had to get the ball to Sims in the lane. But his shots were long on nearly every jumper and he failed to convert easy layups.
“(They were) shots I’d normally make,” Sims said. “It’s just one of those things where I’m critiquing it mentally too much and I just need to keep shooting.”
His 10-point performance marked his second straight tough game. He logged a season-low seven points in last week’s loss to Illinois.
Michigan’s 1-3-1 zone proved ineffective against the Buckeyes (3-2 Big Ten, 13-3 overall). Ohio State shot 55 percent from the field and hit 16 shots in the paint, including numerous dunks by center B.J. Mullens and forward Dallas Lauderdale.
It didn’t help that Michigan (3-3, 13-5) had another slow start. The Wolverines trailed by as many as 11 in the first half and shot just 7-of-26 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The loss gave Michigan its first losing streak of the season. The Wolverines lost 66-51 to Illinois last Wednesday.
“This is really a tough stretch right now,” Beilein said. “Obviously I’ve been through it before, but I don’t remember this type of thing.”
In the next three weeks, Michigan plays seven games. Four will be on the road, and three will be against ranked teams, notably No. 3 Connecticut and No. 7 Michigan State.
Losing to an unranked opponent at home won’t bode well for the Wolverines’ tournament hopes in March, and it only gets harder from here for the Wolverines.