The Buckeyes send Michigan back to Ann Arbor and play for the B1G tournament title
It wasn’t easy and at times not pretty, but by the time the final horn sounded Ohio State (21-8) had 68 points on the scoreboard and Michigan (20-4) had 67. According to everyone’s calculations, the Buckeyes made the winners and went to the B1G championship game and made the Wolverines losers and went back to Ann Arbor.
The first half of the game was played in stark contrast to the first meeting between these teams. This game was a high level offensive game with both teams firing shots and making games. The first half of this game was as diverse as it could be. In the first half, both teams shot a gloomy 30% off the field. The Buckeyes also managed to go 0-4 off the free throw line. The lack of insult gave Michigan a 27-26 lead at halftime. In fairness, both teams played without key players. Michigan striker Isaiah Livers and OSU striker Kyle Young both suffered injuries. That may explain some of the incompetent offenses, but both teams were guilty of missing simple shots that would normally have been baskets. The ball just didn’t go in.
In the second half, things changed. Michigan got their inside game going while the Buckeyes got their perimeter game going again. OSU had a slight lead in the first ten minutes, leading by up to four, but Michigan always responded to stay close. A basket from Michigan’s Austin Davis with 11:40 remaining gave the Wolverines the lead at 43-42, but it was a lead that was short-lived. The Buckeyes ran an 11-0 run to score the 53:43 result, with 9: 6 remaining on the clock.
OSU was able to extend the lead to 13 at 4:19 and looked to the whole world to get the game under control.
Looks can be disappointing.
Michigan fought its way back at nine o’clock when OSU’s EJ Liddell took a quick break at 2:50 and pounded a dunk home … at least he thought he did. The ball rattled around the edge and popped out harmlessly, Liddell and the Horse Chestnuts denying two points. Michigan then converted two free throws at the other end. The four-point swing brought the score to 67-60, and it was 2:44, and suddenly it was a game.
Poor sales from Liddell resulted in a Michigan score that reduced the lead to 68-64 by 1:29. Another OSU turnover resulted in a three that scored 68-67, 48 seconds ahead.
The Buckeyes needed a piece. Instead, they made further sales when CJ Young was asked to step on the end line and Michigan had the ball back with 28 seconds on the clock. The Wolverines played for one shot, but the Buckeye defense took whatever was easy. The final shot of the game was a three-point attempt by Michigan’s Mike Smith, but Liddell was there to disrupt the shot and he went off the edge and gave the OSU the win.
With the win, OSU has now defeated every team this season. They got into the Big Ten tournament with no wins against Purdue, Minnesota and Michigan, but defeated all of those teams to get to the championship game tomorrow at 3:30 a.m. on CBS.
Duane Washington led the OSU with 24 points, including five three-point goals. EJ Liddell was 18 years old. After a dismal shot in the first half, OSU shot 58% and 42% off the field for the game in the second half.