Michigan Basketball (18-6, 10-2) picked up an impressive 70-60 victory at Ohio State on Tuesday night. The win was Michigan’s first in Columbus since 2003. It also marks the second consecutive victory for the Wolverines over the Buckeyes and keeps Michigan perched atop the Big Ten standings.
The Wolverines were trailing 43-37 with 12:16 to play. Sparked by the determined play of their ferocious freshman point guard, Michigan went on a 12-0 run to take a six point lead. Walton went to work on the glass, hauling in a career-high 10 boards. He also pushed the tempo with his quickness and he scored all 13 of his points in a second half that he dominated.
As impressive as he final line was, 13 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Walton played with a fortitude reminiscent of another fabulous point guard, who piloted the Wolverines the last two seasons. He logged 36 minutes against a stout Ohio State defense, on the road and turned the ball over just one time.
Walton was also 6-6 from the free throw line, including 5-5 in the game’s final two minutes. He attacked the basket with authority and nailed a clutch three-pointer that gave the Wolverines a 56-50 lead with 4:41 left to play.
Walton has been steadily improving over the course of the season. In Big Ten action, he is averaging 9.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds . He is shooting 50% from the field and from three-point range, Walton is also 80% from the free throw line.
A little help from his friends
As great as Walton was, he also had some help from his friends. Fellow freshman, Zak Irvin hit some big shots en route to a 10 point 3 rebound performance. Thanks in large part to Irvin, Michigan’s bench outscored Ohio State’s bench 18-4.
Nik Stauskas broke out of his mini-funk and, despite being harassed by Aaron Craft most of the night, scored a team-high 15 points and was 3-6 from beyond the arc.
Caris LeVert didn’t shoot well, 3-11 from the field and 1-6 from three-point range, but he did log a team-high 38 minutes and scored 9 points, pulled down 5 rebounds, and didn’t turn the ball over . He also came up with a huge steal and layup that sliced Ohio State’s lead to 43-42 with 11:23 left to play.
Additionally, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined for 14 points and 12 boards on 7-9 shooting.
The Big Ten grind continues
The win over Ohio State concluded a 5 games in 13 days stretch, in which Michigan was 3-2. The Wolverines will now get a chance to catch their breath as they will play 3 games in the next 15 days. However, as great as that sounds, the first two games coming up are Wisconsin and Michigan State at Crisler Center.
John Beilein is doing a tremendous job coaching this team and it’s going to be fun to watch them down the stretch and into March Madness. The rise of Derrick Walton helps solidify Michigan as a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament,
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