INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan sprinted out of the gate but needed a late comeback to overtake Ohio State in a 72-69 Big Ten tournament semifinal victory on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Wolverines (25-7) advanced to Sunday’s Big Ten championship game as guards Nik Stauskas scored 18 points, Caris LeVert had 17 and Glenn Robinson III added 11.
Michigan trailed 68-65 with 3:43 to play when Stauskas ignited the game-winning surge with a 21-foot jumper. Robinson followed with two free throws for a 69-68 lead at the 2:55 mark and Stauskas’ jumper 49 seconds later provided the decisive points as he extended the advantage to 71-68.
Ohio State guard Aaron Craft’s struggled to get off a desperation 3-point try from the top of the key as time expired.
Forward LaQuinton Ross scored 19 points, guard Shannon Scott had 18 points while forward Sam Thompson added 11 for the defending champion Buckeyes (25-9).
Michigan, the tourney top seed and regular season champ, will play either No. 2 seed Wisconsin or No. 3 Michigan State for the title.
The Spartans used efficient 3-point shooting to jump to big early leads, including a quick 15-2 edge on three straight 3-pointers and five-of-six shooting in the first four minutes.
By the 10:50 mark Michigan State had hit six of eight on 3-point tries and opened a 24-14 lead and four minutes later had a 37-22 advantage with their eighth 3-pointer and sizzling 14-of-19 shooting (73.6 percent).
After absorbing Michigan State’s initial pummeling, Ohio State replied with a 12-4 run through the balance of the half as guard Aaron Craft kicked off the comeback with a 3-pointer while Ross added six points to trim the deficit to 41-37 by halftime.
The Spartans started the second half the same as the first as Stauskas had a pair of 3-pointers and guard Derrick Walton Jr. for 50-39 lead.
The Buckeyes again chipped away and claimed their first lead at 61-60 when Scott fed Thompson for the go-ahead dunk with 7:58 left in regulation. Ohio State led by as many as three points with less than four minutes to play.
Michigan was 12 of 23 (52.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
NOTES: Michigan, the top seed and regular season champ, beat Ohio State 70-60 on Feb. 11 in the teams’ only other meeting this season but still trails the all-time series 93-75 and is 2-4 in neutral site meetings. … The Wolverines reached the Big Ten semifinals for the third time in four years and has opening-round victories in six straight seasons. … Senior F Jordan Morgan played in his school record 137th career game on Saturday, moving past G Stu Douglas (2008-12). Three Wolverines ranked in the conference’s top 10 in 3-point percentage: G Nik Stauskas (45.8), G Zak Irvin (41.5) and G Caris LeVert (41.0). … Ohio State reached the Big Ten semifinals for the sixth straight year and ninth time overall since the tourney’s 1998 inaugural season. … F LaQuinton Ross averaged 22.5 points and 14 rebounds in two tourney games entering Saturday including a career-high 26 points against Nebraska on Friday. … G Aaron Craft has a 10.6 point average in 11 career Big Ten tournament games. The 2014 Big Ten defensive player of the year also has 52 assists, 19 steals and seven blocks and in postseason play. … The Buckeyes have limited opponents to 59.2 points per game, lowest in the Big Ten.
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