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Instant Analysis: Michigan ousts Ohio State 56-51 to tighten Big Ten race

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In a game where the Wolverines never trailed on the scoreboard, the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes were stifled by one of Michigan's most impressive defensive performances of the year. The raucous sea of maize shirts, the ultra-focused players, and John Beilein's carefully constructed gameplan were all top-notch on this night.

Freshman guard Trey Burke led the way with 17 points, but it was a true team effort that made this monumental victory possible. Michigan drew four offensive charge calls at the defensive end (two by Novak, one by Hardaway Jr. and one by Morgan) and frustrated Ohio State's talented big man Jared Sullinger on numerous occasions, holding him to 14 points on sub-50% shooting.

The win pulls the two rivals into a dead tie for second place in the Big Ten at 10-4, and both teams will anxiously await the result of 10-3 Michigan State's road game with Purdue tomorrow afternoon.

A few thoughts after the jump...

  • The only time this game was tied was at 0-0. Considering how rough it was to see the Buckeyes cut the lead to two and three points on certain occasions late in the contest, with the feeling that a harsh reality might swoop in at a moment's notice, a wire-to-wire win over this OSU squad is absolutely unreal.
  • Jordan Morgan rose to the challenge like he did in the first half back in January. This kid wants the honor of guarding the best player in the league, and tonight he was arguably just as good, if not better. Still, we need to be seeing these 11-point, 11-rebound efforts with regularity.
  • Ohio State's shot selection was rough. A ton of quick, rushed shots from the Buckeyes throughout the game played right into Michigan's hands, and only fueled the crowd.
  • Offensive rebounds are a still a very real problem. Lenzelle Smith Jr. last time, and DeShaun Thomas tonight. There appears to be a weak spot in Michigan's ability to contain talented, athletic wings who are active on the glass, and that's not exactly something you want to think about if we are in fact talking about an Elite Eight-caliber basketball team. Basically, if Thomas can do what he did tonight, how on Earth can Michigan contain a front line from Kentucky or Syracuse?
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. ate his Wheaties at a convenient time. His numbers don't jump off the page (13 points, four turnovers), but Hardaway looked like the confident player we all thought we were going to get every single night heading into the season. His massive three-pointer, followed by a camera-friendly salute as he was backpedaling down the court, was the one of the coolest scenes of the game: