It was a tale of two halves in this game. Ohio State came out on fire defensively. After giving up the first three points of the game, the defense stepped up and forced 9 turnovers and scored 16 points off of them. At one point in the first Ohio State was up by 21 points and with about 7 minutes to go in the first half Michigan only had 8 points total. Michigan’s zone defensive combined with the Buckeyes getting in foul trouble, allowed the Wolverines to get within 12 at the half.
The second half was a back and forth tussle in which Ohio State was hoping the buffer that that built in the first half would be enough to pull off the upset. Michigan cut down on their turnovers and forced Ohio State into a slow down, half court game that proved to be a problem for the Buckeyes. They used this style of play to cut the lead down to 2 at one point but couldn’t take over the lead. With 12 seconds to go in the game, Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit two free throws to extend the lead to four and propel the Buckeyes to a 56-53 victory.
1. Another Strong Start – Ohio State gave up a 3-0 lead and then turned on the defense that led to an explosive offensive start. This is on the heels of a strong start at Purdue that was enough to give Ohio State the win.
2. Defense, Defense, Defense – Numerous things on this topic. The defense forced 13 Michigan turnovers when they only average 9.3 on the year. Although most of this was in the first half it gave Ohio State a huge offensive boost. Another point on defense is that Michigan hardly ever got a shot off without having a hand in their face.
3. Tank Scoring – DeShaun Thomas came into the game as the leading scorer in the Big Ten. He didn’t let Burke show him up on his home court. Thomas averaged 20.3 and ended up with 20 to Burke’s 15.
1. Unnecessary Fouls – When you play an aggressive style defense like Ohio State does, you are going to pick up fouls and most likely foul more than the other team. However, since that’s the case, you can’t commit lazy fouls. The Buckeyes dominated the first half but gave Michigan life closing out the half by giving up easy fouls and allowing the Wolverines to score with the clock not moving.
2. Half Court Offense – The struggles continued in the half court offense. Most of the scoring occurred in transition or off of defensive sparks. Michigan’s mix between zone and man defense seemed to stop the dribble penetration and stump Ohio State.
3. Finish the Half Strong – The Buckeyes completely dominated the first half but got complacent in the final five minutes of the first half. This gave the Wolverines life and momentum to build on in the second half.
Ohio State will next travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Saturday, January 19. You can catch that game on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.