The #2 ranked Michigan basketball team, with a chance to become the nation’s new #1, didn’t have enough in the tank against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Thad Matta’s team handed the Wolverines their first loss and came away with a 56-53 win.
The first half ambush that OSU employed against Michigan was the first time all year that a very young Michigan team looked just that – young. In the end, that dismal early game stretch proved to be their poison.
Trey Burke v. Aaron Craft
How They Lost
Michigan (16-1, 3-1) was playing out of character early, fell behind big as a result, and were simply unable to claw all the way back. The Buckeyes led 29-8 with just under 7 minutes left in the 1st half and all signs pointed toward certain doom for the Wolverines.
Of all players, it was backup point guard Spike Albrecht that calmed Michigan down and got them back to playing the way they know how. John Beilein’s team chipped away and entered the halftime break down 34-22.
Michigan came out for the 2nd half and continued to scrape away at the lead and finally drew even at 46-46 with 5:50 left In the game. OSU outscored Michigan by 6 over the next 2 minutes to reassert themselves.
The key play came with Michigan down by 2 and holding a chance to tie it again or take the lead. Trey Burke was never able to get the offense into a good set and the Buckeyes defense forced a fall back three pointer that agonizingly rimmed out. Shades of Burke missing at the buzzer a season ago at Arkansas instantly came to mind. Today, the missed shot ultimately undid Michigan’s comeback attempt as OSU grabbed the board and did what they had to do from the free throw line to secure the win.
Deshaun Thomas was the best player on the floor all day and ended with a game high 20 points on 8-18 shooting. Burke led Michigan with 15.
Michigan’s 3 Stars
Tim Hardaway, Jr. – Hardaway had a dreadful first half but keyed Michigan’s 2nd half surge with a 9-point run that made Michigan feel like they had a chance. Hardaway ended the day just 5-15 from the floor for 12 points. He added 5 rebounds, a steal, assist, and a block.
Spike Albrecht – Without Spike’s first half performance, Michigan likely gets blown out of the gym. Albrecht was the one Wolverine in the early going who didn’t play like he was rattled by his surroundings. He was 4-4 from the free throw line on his way to 7 points. As nice as it is to have his name on this list, it quite honestly shouldn’t be there and is more a testament to how poorly the rest of the team played for large parts of the game.
Trey Burke – Burke met his match yet again in Aaron Craft. The tenacious defender was all over Burke in the early going and forced Trey into 4 costly turnovers. Despite being harassed and made to be uncomfortable for most of the game, Burke managed 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and 2 blocks. In future road games of this magnitude, or come tournament time, Burke is going to have to find a way to keep a young Michigan team on point and playing their style of basketball.
News and Notes
Michigan was outrebounded 30-25. Longer, athletic teams like the Buckeyes have killed Michigan in recent years due to an overall lack of team size. Today looked to be a bit of a flashback at times as Michigan had trouble with the lanky athletes of Ohio State.
Michigan also lost the turnover battle 13-12. Credit OSU for making life miserable on the Michigan players.
This afternoon marked the first time in Nik Stauskas’ short career that he was held without a point, and only the 2nd time all year that he hasn’t netted at least double figures. Stauskas looked overmatched on the defensive end of the floor and some early foul trouble severely limited his contribution.
Michigan shot just 18-47 (38.3%) from the field and a dreadful 6-20 from long range. Ohio State shot 22-50 (44%) and 5-15, respectively.
It looked like That Matta was content to see what Glenn Robinson III could create on his own offensively. Robinson hasn’t been asked to do that very much this year and didn’t look confident trying to break his man down off the dribble. He finished 3-8 from the field for 8 points but did hit 2 big 3’s for Michigan.
It certainly isn’t time to panic in Ann Arbor. In the preseason Rob and I both predicted this to be Michigan’s first hiccup of the year. Big things are ahead for this team and they have the right coach on the sidelines to make sure today falls into the ‘lessons learned’ department.
Michigan gets 3 days off before traveling to The Barn to tangle with the upstart Minnesota Gophers (15-2, 3-1). The game will tip at 7 eastern and ESPN will provide the video feed.
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