OSU 56 - Michigan 53: The long road back is a dead end

Yeah, it didn't go in - Jamie Sabau

Despite the worst first half ever, Michigan falls just short in Columbus.

Considering what went on in the first fifteen minutes of the game, Michigan should count this one as a major moral victory. Although, given the vast number of blown opportunities, the myriad of forced threes, and the key defensive breakdowns you really have to reevaluate this team's future.

Ohio State controlled the game early with punishing defense and a forceful control of the paint. After Michigan hit a quick three to start the game, Ohio State peeled off a 16-0 run en route to a 21 point lead. Michigan gradually climbed back into the game late in the first when Aaron Craft was on the bench in foul trouble, and a steady climb in the second never quite was able to get over the hump.

Michigan made a valiant effort to fight back in this one, but Ohio State controlled the game from the start to finish. The Buckeyes got the ball inside at will, and harrassed Michigan's key offensive players into uncharacteristically bad games. The leading scorer at the end of 20? Spike Albrecht.

Michigan is still one of the better teams in the country, but when faced with an athletic defensive Michigan's offense went into a shell, settling for a lot of long, contested three point shots. The Wolverines also failed to win the battle on the boards.

If Michigan doesn't find a way to work the ball inside against top tier defenses, every game will turn into a jump shooting contest. Thirty percent on threes and 38 percent overall today are good indications that this isn't a sustainable plan for the future.

- In the battle of point guards, you have to give the edge to Craft. His nine points weren't as much as Burke, but it was his defensive effort that made the difference early. Once Craft hit the bench in the first it allowed Michigan to fight back. Burke turned it around in the second half and finished with 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists, but that was with four turnovers.

- Nik Stuaskas: completely marginalized. Not too surprising for a freshmen that is more of an outside threat than anything else, but hopefully this becomes a learning experience.

- Mitch McGary showed flashes of what is going to make him more and more valuable as the season wears on. His high motor and presence inside made the difference on a few plays.

- The passing in the first half was atrocious. So many giveaways that weren't even close to good passes.

- The story of this game is missed opprotunities down the stretch. Every time Michigan made it close, Ohio State had some sort of answer. Every time Michigan had a chance to really swing momentum, there was some sequence of events that kept them back. The Big Ten on the road is no joke, and these kinds of games will happen.

- No number one, but the jobs not done. A trip to Minnesota comes on Thursday. A must win now.

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