Michigan gets elusive win at Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Beilein never experienced the thrill of winning at Value City Arena in his seven seasons as Michigan coach.
Until Tuesday night.
The No. 15 Wolverines won for the first time in 11 years at Ohio State, recovering from an eight-point deficit early in the second half for a 70-60 victory over the No. 22 Buckeyes before a sellout crowd of 18,809.
The Wolverines (18-6, 10-2 Big Ten) ended a nine-game losing streak in games played in Columbus. Their last win in Columbus came in January 2003.
The victory nudged Michigan a half-game in front of Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings with six conference games to play.
“We love getting road wins,” Michigan forward Jordan Morgan said. “That’s one of the hardest things to do in this conference. So any time you can get one of those, it’s big.
“Obviously, this game means a lot to a lot of people. For us to come into this hostile arena and get a win means a lot.”
Ohio State coach Thad Matta suffered his first home loss to Michigan in 10 meetings between the rivals but has a 17-5 record against the Wolverines.
“You’ve got to find a way to make plays,” Matta said. “We’ve lost six games now this season and we’ve led in the second half in five of them. The last couple of games we’ve made some plays we had to make and tonight we couldn’t do that.”
Guard Nik Stauskas scored 15 points to lead Michigan, which lost its last two Big Ten road games.
Freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. ignited the Wolverines in the second half, scoring all of his 13 points and collecting eight of his game-high 10 rebounds. Forward Glenn Robinson III and guard Caris LeVert each added nine points.
“I thought the atmosphere was tremendous today,” Beilein said. “Right from tip-off, it was like we were playing in a Final Four game. It was loud and a terrific example of two really good programs playing Big Ten basketball. Once our guys settled down, we showed a lot of high character.”
Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross led all scorers with 24 points and added seven rebounds. Guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. contributed 13 points.
After Ohio State (19-6, 6-6) missed its last six shots from the field in the first half, Ross scored four points and Jr. buried a 3-pointer from the left wing as the Buckeyes expanded a 30-26 halftime lead to 37-29. But Michigan responded with a 20-6 run to go in front 49-43 on a three-point play by Walton with 8:53 remaining.
Ohio State kept it close. Ross’ three-point play after rebounding his own miss cut the deficit to 51-50 with 6:22 left.
Robinson nailed a big 3-pointer from the corner with 3:47 left to make it 56-52 and the Buckeyes would never get closer. The Wolverines outscored Ohio State 44-30 in the second half.
The Buckeyes made only 3 of 20 shots from 3-point range (15.0 percent) and the Wolverines were 8 of 17 from beyond the arc (47.1 percent), including 4 of 7 in the second half.
“It’s hard to go 3 of 20 from 3 in this league and win,”Matta said.
Michigan hurt Ohio State with several key offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive in the second half and end the Buckeyes’ three-game winning streak.
“Every loss hurts,” Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft said. “Obviously, you can’t get comfortable and we found a way to play tough on the road for a couple games and we came home and got one and today we didn’t have it.
“We have six games left, so as much as this may hurt, we have to move forward. We have to find a way to continue to get better because nothing’s guaranteed and there’s still a lot to play for.”
NOTES: Ohio State senior G Aaron Craft and Michigan senior F Jordan Morgan were named Tuesday to the five-member NCAA Division I Allstate NABC Good Works team that honors community service. Craft also was named Big Ten player of the week after leading the Buckeyes to wins at Iowa and at home against Purdue. … A number of Ohio State students camped outside the Schottenstein
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