Columbus has been a notoriously tough place for the Michigan basketball team, and the 70-60 victory was the first for the Wolverines in Value City Arena in eleven years. Michigan improves to 18-6 on the season and 10-2 in the Big Ten, taking a half-game lead on Michigan State. Ohio State falls to 19-6, and 6-6 in Big Ten play. Ohio State is now fifth in the conference.
Michigan struggled for much of the first half, but somehow managed to cling to a four-point deficit going into the break. The second half was back and forth, but a freshman stepped up to solidify Michigan’s late game lead.
Derrick Walton Jr. only shot 30 percent from the field, but sometimes shooting stats don’t account for one person’s effect on the game. Walton was clutch down the stretch, knocking down a big three and sinking all of his free throws as the clock wound closer to a Michigan victory. Not only did Walton chip in 13 points and six assists, the six-foot freshman grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Despite Walton’s big game and a return to form for Nik Stauskas, the Wolverine offense was anemic for most of the game. Shots weren’t falling- even the easy looks. Several players missed some high percentage looks at the rim.
The Buckeye offense fared a little bit better from two point range, but could only muster a pathetic 15 percent shooting from behind the arc. Ohio State also failed to get to the charity stripe at the same frequency as Michigan, with the Wolverines boasting seven more makes. To go along with the cold shooting, Michigan severely outrebounded the Buckeyes, grabbing 12 more boards than their counterparts.
This game not only saw Stauskas improve from the Iowa outing, it also saw increased production from the center platoon. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined for 14 points and 12 rebounds despite both playing with foul trouble. Zak Irvin continued to develop his role as a guard who can come off the bench and heat up in a hurry, chipping in with 10 points.
Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson both had subpar games, scoring 9 each, it took a combined 21 shots to do so. LeVert’s problem has been establishing consistency, but the continual slump of Robinson is concerning. Michigan will need to get him going in order to give Stauskas the ability to operate and create.
The Wolverines have to be happy to respond with a road win after the tough games against Indiana and Iowa. The tough slate doesn’t stop for Michigan, as they face a Wisconsin team coming off a win against Illinois on Sunday. The Wolverines defeated the Badgers in Madison, and Wisconsin will be looking to knock off a Michigan team now ranked higher than them.
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