The Buckeyes rolled on the gridiron last night; Michigan rolled into Columbus tonight hoping the Buckeyes wouldn't do the same to them on the hardwood.
A good early sign, Zak Irvin buried a three on Michigan's first possession, and the two squads sat squared away at 9-9 by the first TV timeout. That was the
Irvin buried another three to give Michigan a lead, but a short-lived one, as the Buckeyes launched a 15-2 run that put Michigan behind by double digits; Michigan never got the deficit back into single digits, ultimately falling 71-52.
Jae'Sean Tate simply outmuscled Ricky Doyle for an offensive rebound and score, an early indicator of the difference in physical ability between the two teams. I figured Tate would be the guy to watch off of the bench; he scored six points on 3-for-3 shooting before hobbling to the locker room with an apparently leg injury at the 4-minute mark of the half.
As expected, outside shooting would have to carry the day for Michigan, but, for the time being, the shots weren't hitting the mark. Also in bad news, Derrick Walton picked up foul No. 2 with 10:04 remaining in the half, meaning he'd have to sit for a while.
Caris LeVert finally ended the run with a triple, but Tate once again out-leaped Michigan for an offensive rebound and score. Not surprisingly, Michigan trailed in the rebounding category, 16-9, at this point.
More concerning, however, was the flow of Michigan's offense, harassed by the stifling OSU defense. In one particularly disappointing sequence, OSU's Sam Thompson knocked in a 10-footer, and LeVert then inbounded the ball right to Shannon Scott under the basket, who converted an easy two, giving OSU a 32-17 lead.
With just five minutes left in the half, down 15, Michigan was in desperate need of a spark, lest the game enter Arizona-level blowout territory. You know things are dire when Beilein ignores the two-foul rule (Walton re-entered the game late in the half).
Unfortunately, Michigan couldn't quite find that spark, entering the half down 39-24. The story of the first half, though, was Ohio State's defense. The Wolverines shot 37 percent from the field, attempt zero free throws and turned it over eight times. When you're not lights out from three (4-for-13, 31 percent), finding yourself down 15 isn't a huge surprise.
The first four minutes of the second half would be key for a scuffling Michigan team. But, the Wolverines started 0-for-12 from the field as the OSU lead ballooned, all the way up to 28 at one point.
Albrecht drove into the lane and tossed a wild pass over his shoulder, resulting in a turnover and an alley-oop slam at the other end for Thompson, making the deficit 23.
There's not much use in giving an account of the rest of the game. The Wolverines had no answer for OSU's defensive intensity, and their play became increasingly desperate and un-fundamentally sound as the game proceeded.
These sorts of things happen on the road in the Big Ten; even last year's eventual regular season champion Michigan team took a thumping at Iowa. Nonetheless, the utter lack of positive play when threes aren't falling is a problem, and not one likely to go away to any significant extent.
Also on the not-so-good front, Irvin and LeVert ate some bench with 10 minutes to play, as Dan Dakich continued to harp on making hard cuts and just generally playing hard. I honestly don't know if it's fair to say they weren't playing hard; often, playing poorly and without confidence makes a player look like they're dogging it. Either way, at this point in the season, that's certainly not a good thing.
Michigan shot 6-for-26 from downtown. LeVert led the Wolverines with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting. Irvin was Michigan's only other double-digit scorer, with 11, also on 4-for-10 shooting. Michigan attempted just four free throws before the game's final minute. Derrick Walton, saddled with foul trouble, scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting and only two assists.
Ohio State shot 49 percent from the field as a team while racking up a whopping 11 steals. D'Angelo Russell scored a game-high 21 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Moving on from this one, the Wolverines return to the Crisler Center on Saturday, where they'll take on Chris Collins's Northwestern Wildcats, another must-win home game for Michigan.