In a wild atmosphere at the Crisler Center, the Michigan Wolverines (20-7, 10-4) knocked off the #6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (22-5, 10-4) by a final score of 56-51.
The Michigan basketball team and its fans were able to bask in the limelight all day on Saturday and shake the notion that this is a football school, and little more. With ESPN’s College Gameday working the Wolverine fans into a day-long frenzy, the team responded with a cover-to-cover win over the team from Ohio.
Trey Burke and Stu Douglass
When Michigan and Ohio State meet on the gridiron, it’s known as The Game, and the best rivalry in all of sports. That reputation has been earned over decades of ferocious battles with Big 10 titles on the line. Today’s basketball game had a similar feel, and make no mistake, Michigan basketball is back on the map.
The win draws the Wolverines even in the standings with the Buckeyes as both teams are just a half game back of the Michigan State Spartans for the conference lead. A Big 10 title is within sight.
Trey Burke was introduced before the game as “the pride of Columbus, Ohio”, and boy did he deliver against his hometown school. The freshman took over down the stretch and made sure that the Buckeyes wouldn’t be able to steal one from the Wolverines.
Michigan improved their home record to a sterling 15-0 with the win.
Two late buckets in traffic by Burke kept the Buckeyes at bay and added to the legacy that Burke is already carving out in Ann Arbor. He finished the game with 17 points and 5 assists, outplaying OSU’s Aaron Craft who managed just 4 points and 3 assists.
Jordan Morgan turned in his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Lost in the stats was the effort he put in on the defensive side of the ball against Jared Sullinger. Morgan was drawing charges, bodying up, and quite simply making the big fella uncomfortable. Sullinger shot 6 of 14 from the field on his way to 14 hard-earned points.
Morgan energized the Crisler Center crowd with 2 thunderous dunks in the 2nd half, including his first left-handed slam as a Wolverine. J-Mo added 2 steals to his impressive stat line.
Morgan wasn’t the only Wolverine playing his heart out though. Michigan frustrated Ohio State’s bigger lineup into a 19-49 performance (39%) from the field. Michigan shot 22-47 on the night (47%).
The Wolverines won the turnover battle by an 8 to 13 margin.
In the postgame presser, Coach John Beilein was speaking of how fortunate he and his coaching staff are to be working with this particular group of kids. Beilein stole a page from Coach Norman Dale’s (Hoosiers) playbook by saying, “These guys all buy into a selfless attitude. The team. The team. The team.”
More than any Michigan squad in memory, this version has bought in. Every player is drawing charges, scrapping for loose balls, and playing for his brother in Maize and Blue.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. had one of his better and more selfless offensive games of the season – and he only shot the ball 5 times, making good on 4 of them on his way to 13 points.
Deshaun Thomas carried the Buckeyes, single-handedly keeping them within striking distance. Thomas had 25 points and 13 rebounds but his career-night was not enough on this day. The rest of his teammates managed just 26 points.
Michigan flipped the script on Lenzelle Smith, Jr. He was a menace when Michigan was taken down in Columbus as he had 17 points and 12 rebounds. In 28 minutes tonight, he had just 2 points and 1 board.
Michigan is set to hit the road as they head to Northwestern on Tuesday night for an 8 p.m.. eastern tipoff. The Wolverines will be riding high heading into the Wildcats’ gym as they look for their 3rd true road win of the season.
3 of Michigan’s last 4 games are away from home. After Northwestern, they host Purdue and then close out the season with road games at Illinois and Penn State.
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