It looked like Michigan stepped into a time machine and went back to last year. The energy was quickly sucked out of the Wolverines in the opening minutes of the game as Ohio State's defense looked like it spent the last few days studying the blueprint of how to shut down Stauskas and Michigan. Ohio State outscored Michigan 19-10 over the first ten minutes of game time. Michigan couldn't generate offense and Ohio State was getting into the lane with ease.
Ultimately, those first ten minutes melted away, Ohio State's offense cooled down, Michigan hung around and chipped away in quick bursts, never getting closer than a couple points until, with just under 11 minutes left in the game, Nik Stauskas hit two free throws to put Michigan up by a point. Michigan led the rest of the way.
Over the last 30 minutes of game time Michigan outscored Ohio State 60-41, thanks to a hot hand, and an impressive game from freshman Derrick Walton.
Walton finished the game with 13 points (all of them in the second half), 10 rebounds, six assists, a steal and just one turnover. When Michigan needed plays down the stretch, Walton was the one pulling down the rebound, making the extra pass, or hitting the big shot. Walton has been improving as of late and has been a strong presence late in a number of games.
He is trending up at the right time, as Michigan's Stauskas-based ball-screen offense has found itself grounded as teams heavily deny Stauskas on the wing. Stauskas found more ways to contribute in this game and ended with 15 points on nine shots and three rebounds.
Caris LeVert once again played a major role initiating the offense, and while his shooting wasn't stellar (just 3/11 from the field and 1/6 from deep) he didn't turn the ball over and added two assists.
The main reasons Michigan was able to win came down to the predictable ones. The Wolverines shot the ball well from outside and beat Ohio State on the offensive glass. Michigan had both percentages in the 40s, connecting on 8/17 threes while pulling in 42% of its misses. Going into the game Michigan was first in 3pt% and Ohio State was 10th in OR% allowed.
Through two games of Michigan's tough four game gauntlet, the Wolverines are 1-1 and heading home for return games against Wisconsin and Michigan State. Two wins over the next two games puts Michigan in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title.
As it stands, Michigan has won games in Columbus, Madison, and East Lansing in the same year. That is a pretty awesome accomplishment, and even though the offense doesn't look as powerful as it did a few games ago, the Wolverines still sit at the top of the conference.
Wisconsin comes to town Sunday, so there is no time to rest.