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Takeaways from Michigan’s win over Ohio State

It’s pretty hard to lose when you shoot 52.2 percent from three.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

It always feels good to beat your rival, no matter how good or bad your season is going.

The Michigan Wolverines came to play on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hosting the Ohio State Buckeyes in a matinee affair. Despite giving up a 12-point lead in the second half, Michigan battled back and knocked down its threes to win a close game against its archrival, 73-65. The Wolverines improve to 7-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

After missing the NCAA Tournament last season, the Buckeyes are off to a solid start this season, partially thanks to a seven-game win streak that included a win over an Alabama team ranked No. 17 at the time. They’re firmly in the middle of the pack in the conference standings, and like Michigan, they lost their last two conference games ahead of this one; a six-point loss at Indiana and an 11-point loss to No. 15 Wisconsin.

After losing three conference games in a row, this was a victory Michigan desperately needed, and it earned with some Michigan basketball royalty in attendance.

Here are some takeaways from the victory.

Balanced scoring with a great game from Nkamhoua

We know the Wolverines are at their best when their scoring is balanced, which is what we saw today.

Olivier Nkamhoua led the way with 20 points, making a lot of tough mid-range jumpers, using his shoulder to create space and battling inside. He is excellent when he’s 10-15 feet away from the basket, and has one of the better mid-post games of any Michigan player in recent memory. His repertoire between the blocks and the free throw line is impressive.

He wasn't scoring on his own, though. Dug McDaniel helped the Michigan offense run like clockwork, making a few tough shots of his own (15 points, four assists). Terrance Williams II (18 points, 5-of-5 from three) looked good slashing to the rim and draining corner threes, and got the friendly roll on a HUGE three with three minutes left.

Will Tschetter made big-time contributions off the bench, providing energy and scoring seven points, knocking down a three and grabbing some key offensive rebounds. Nimari Burnett and Tarris Reed Jr. made some key contributions on the defensive end as well.

Michigan stuck with a seven-man rotation for most of the game, but was pretty effective offensively thanks to good ball movement and knocking down open threes to score in bunches.

Shooting the lights out from deep

Three-pointers always seem to go in more often at home, to Michigan’s benefit.

Good ball movement led to some wide open threes the Wolverines were able to knock down. They made 7-of-11 from the beyond the arc in that first half, and 52.2 percent in the game. Three-point shooting led to a pair of quick 8-0 runs in that first half, and helped propel their offense in the second half.

The one thing Michigan is consistently good at is knocking down threes; entering this game, it was 37th in the country in three-point percentage and second in the Big Ten, behind only Purdue. As bad as they’ve been this season, the Wolverines are tough to beat when they are making their threes.

A tale of two halves defensively

Michigan has not been good defensively all season long, and while it played good defense in the first half, miscommunications started to pile up in the second.

The Buckeyes only made 32 percent of their shots and went 1-of-14 from three in the first 20 minutes of the game. The Wolverines did a good job rotating and forcing Ohio State into some tough shots.

However, the defense started crumbling in the second half, as Michigan squandered a 12-point lead a few minutes thanks to late rotations and miscommunications. Ohio State went on a four-minute, 16-0 run to go from being down 12 to leading by four largely due to defensive breakdowns.

After almost every miscue in the second half defensively, you could see Michigan players pointing and telling guys where they need to be, with a little bit of bickering. They got stops when they needed to to win, but there were still too many defensive miscommunications.

Jace Howard makes season debut

Jace Howard got on the floor for the first time this season after missing the first half of the year with a stress fracture in his knee and tibia. He was the first player off the bench, checking in for Williams just before the under-12 media timeout in the first half.

He and Tschetter were the only bench players to see minutes in the first half. He didn’t do a whole lot offensively and picked up three fouls quickly, but he played solid defense and grabbed a few rebounds and has embraced his role as a dirty work guy.

A few quick injury updates

-Tray Jackson was out for the second game in a row, with a Michigan spokesperson telling Maize n Brew before the Maryland game he’s in concussion protocol.

-After playing extended minutes in the Maryland game, Jaelin Llewellyn didn’t play in the first half of this one, pedaling on the bike near the bench for most of the half. He did play one minute in the second half, largely because Michigan is being cautious with him coming back from a torn ACL. We’ll likely see him play in more road games with McDaniel not being available in those for the foreseeable future.

The Fab Five makes an appearance

Some familiar faces came out to Crisler Center to watch the game. Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson — members from the Fab Five — all sat next to each other in the front row for this game.

Per longtime Michigan sports writer Larry Lage, when you include Juwan Howard coaching, this is the first time the Fab Five was all back at Crisler together since their playing days. This is a very cool reunion to see, and they need to hang the banners back up in the rafters that those Fab Five teams rightfully earned.

Up next

The Wolverines are back at home in a few days, hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini on Thursday, Jan. 18. That game is set to tip-off at 8:30 p.m. EST on FS1.