Ohio State explodes late, cruises past Michigan, 77-63


By Dillon Davis - cdavis@aimmediamidwest.com



COLUMBUS — What appeared to be another fantastic finish between No. 23 Ohio State and No. 19 Michigan quickly turned into a laugher over the final minutes as Ohio State used a massive run to finish off the Wolverines, 77-63, in Value City Arena on Sunday.

Duane Washington Jr. led all scorers with 20 points, including five three-pointers. C.J. Walker added 15 second-half points. Franz Wagner led Michigan with 18 points.

Michigan jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead to begin the game, thanks to a pair of buckets in the paint from center Jon Teske and a three-pointer from forward Isaiah Livers.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Washington and Wesson gave Ohio State their first lead at 11-9 as the two teams entered the first media timeout. The lead changed hands multiple times over the ensuing six minutes as the two teams stayed within four points of each other.

Ohio State began to put some space between them and the Wolverines as Washington’s three at the 6:45 mark gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of the game at 25-18, and the lead grew to as many as eight points on Kaleb Wesson’s three with 5:24 remaining in the half.

Ohio State was unable to build on their lead over the closing stretch of the first half, however, missing on six of their finals seven attempts and going scoreless over the last 3:19 of the half. Michigan, taking advantage of the cold stretch for the Buckeyes, closed on a 7-2 run to get within three points at 32-29 as the teams went into halftime.

The Buckeyes were able to take a lead into halftime despite the play of big man Kaleb Wesson, who struggled mightily in the first half and was held to just three points on 1-9 shooting.

Michigan (18-11, 9-9) opened the second half much in the same way as they finished the first half. A 9-2 run by the Wolverines to begin the second half forced Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann to call a quick timeout just over two minutes into the half as the Wolverines had taken a 38-34 lead.

Coming out of the timeout, Ohio State responded with an 8-0 run of their own to take back the lead at 42-38. The Buckeyes maintained their lead as the game became late, but Michigan remained within striking distance.

Teske’s jumper with 6:51 remaining leveled the score at 54-54 as the two teams looked primed to take the game down to the final possessions, much like their first meeting in Ann Arbor.

But Ohio State showed no interest in partaking in another nailbiter, and they threw a flurry of punches that Michigan never could recover from.

A jumper by Walker recaptured the lead for Ohio State at 56-54, and a stroke of luck in the form of a banked-in three from Andre Wesson increased the Buckeyes’ lead to 59-54.

Kaleb Wesson followed his brother’s three with one of his own on the next possession, upping their lead to 62-54. Wesson finished with 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Michigan would not get any closer than six points the rest of the way, and a 13-2 run by the Buckeyes beginning at the 3:35 mark blew the game wide open at 77-60 as a packed Schottenstein Center began celebrating another victory of their hated rivals.

Ohio State finished the game shooting 47 percent and better than 50 percent from three with 11 makes on 21 attempts. Michigan struggled from the three-point line, connecting on just seven of its 26 attempts.

Following the game, Holtmann made it very clear he was aware and appreciated what it means to beat Michigan at Ohio State.

“I know this win means a lot to Buckeye Nation,” Holtmann said of the win. “We have a lot of respect for this Michigan team … They compete, they play hard. They’re gifted … The bottom line is players win games and all of our guys stepped up and made major plays today.”

Asked what it meant to secure the season sweet of Michigan, Holtmann acknowledged there is a difference in the rivalry from football to basketball, but he said, “It matters. It matters to everybody who cares about this place to everybody who has been here. It matters to our former players, our former coaches. It matters.”

With the win, Ohio State gains its 20th win of the season and now carries an overall record of 20-9, including 10-8 in Big Ten play. They will return to the floor next Thursday when they host Illinois in the final home game of the season.

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By Dillon Davis

cdavis@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.