Michigan’s Offense Too Much for Buckeyes in 92-87 Battle

The No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (16-1, 11-1) had five scorers in double figures as they outdueled No. 4 Ohio State (18-5, 12-5) 92-87 in a high-level affair Sunday afternoon. All eight players who took the court for the Wolverines scored. They were led by freshman center Hunter Dickinson’s 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Buckeyes were led by Duane Washington’s career-high 30 points, while EJ Liddell posted 23 points and 10 rebounds. CJ Walker added 15 points and three assists off the bench. Both teams shot 53% from the field for the game. Michigan’s pace eventually seemed too much for the Ohio State defense, which also led to some mistakes offensively for the Buckeyes as they had some critical turnovers in the game’s final minutes.

The Star

Michigan’s 7-foot freshman center Hunter Dickinson was just too big and strong for the Buckeyes down the stretch. Dickinson scored a team-high 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also hit all six of his free throws and grabbed nine rebounds. Dickinson scored 10 of his 22 points in the game’s final seven minutes. And some of those points were quite forceful. The first of his field goals in that 7-minute stretch gave Michigan a 1-point lead. His final field goal made it an 82-76 lead for Michigan, which Ohio State could not overcome.

The Story

Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell recently called the Wolverines the best defense he’s seen in the Big Ten in the last five years, which should give you some idea of just how good Ohio State’s offense is. But they were still not good enough in this one. Michigan is a very deep, talented, and versatile offensive team, and they showed it against the Buckeyes. The Wolverines led 45-43 at the half and shot 10-of-13 from three-point territory. The thought by most was that Michigan would not be able to keep shooting like this and then they could be in trouble. Well, the Wolverines made their first three-point attempt in the second half and then went on to miss the next nine they took. They finished 1-of-10 from three-point range in the second half and outscored the Buckeyes by three. Michigan can put points on the board in a variety of ways and we saw most of them on display Sunday.

The Turning Point

The Buckeyes seemed to run out of a bit of gas and got careless with the ball down the stretch. In a game like this, having your serve broken can be the difference in the game. Leading by two points and with the ball, CJ Walker turned the ball over with 9:33 to play. Michigan tied it at 65-65 four seconds later. Duane Washington turned it over a little over a minute later, which led to a fastbreak basket and a 67-65 lead for UM. Two minutes later, Michigan took four shots on one possession thanks to three offensive rebounds. The final field goal attempt fell and gave the Wolverines a 71-69 lead. Trailing 77-74 with under three minutes to play, Justice Sueing added to the turnovers with a behind-the-back pass to nobody. Michigan turned that into an and-one that essentially ended the game. That was not the play that lost the game, but it was indicative of the way the game had gone for OSU over the previous six or seven minutes.

The Difference

The Wolverines’ ball movement had Ohio State’s defense running all over the place. Ball reversals, crisp passes to the next man, it led to many, many open looks for Michigan. Most of which they made. The Wolverines finished with 19 assists on 30 field goals. The ball was hardly ever sitting still. Even when it went into the paint it wouldn’t stay long. There were extra passes from veteran to veteran where somebody was giving up a good shot for a great shot.

The Box Score

The Postgame

Chris Holtmann

— This was a hard-fought game. Both teams competed and made shots, but Michigan made stops when they needed and got some offensive rebounds during key sequences. Give Michigan credit.

— Dickinson is a really good player. “I thought his length and size at the end of the day bothered us.” They need to figure out how to deal with him moving forward. OSU did attack him at times and made it difficult for him, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t enough.

— It’s hard to feel great about the game coming out on the losing end, but there was a lot of great execution by the Buckeyes. “We’ve got to figure out how to move forward.”

— Some of Michigan’s shooting in the first half was OSU scrambling on defense because of their concerns with Dickinson. The UM shooting did even out from three in the second half.

— Holtmann isn’t sure what Justice Sueing was reading when he made his behind-the-back pass late in the game. They had a quick conversation about it afterward.

— The Buckeyes played well offensively. Michigan smothered Justin Ahrens and they were physical on Kyle Young, so those two guys were defended well. “I have no issues with our offensive attack. It was the other end that allowed them to win the game.”

— His focus isn’t on this being a measuring stick but rather areas where they can improve and grow. There are things they can do as coaches to put their players in better positions defensively. “I think we’re a good team as well.” “We need to be better come Thursday night in some areas.”

— They defended the three better in the second half. Having CJ Walker defending the ball helped, and they also tweaked some ball screen defensively. Plus Michigan missed some open looks.

— “Our margin for error defensively is small so our attention to detail has to be really good.”

— A lot is being made of Dickinson’s size, but Michigan had other guys who impacted the Ohio State defense. OSU was also able to attack Dickinson offensively.

— There’s no question, you lose a game and you’re disappointed. This is disappointing. “We didn’t finish the game well enough.”

— He wanted a little more size and rebounding in the second half, which is why Justin Ahrens didn’t have as many minutes.

— We’ll see if guys listen up in practice about the defense now. “That’s on us as coaches and players.” He doesn’t know that this team has the potential to be elite defensively, but they can be better.

— Duane Washington has been “really, really locked in. He’s been really committed to growing as a player.”

— “Our guys today, I’ve got no fault with their competitiveness or the spirit they played with. No fault at all.”

— Musa Jallow has a significant amount of swelling in his ankle. “We’ll see when that goes down.”

Duane Washington

— This was a great game between two top five teams. Just have to be a little bit better in the last four minutes next time.

— He’s been working on his own after practice on his driving abilities and that’s been helping. “Unfortunately it wasn’t enough (today).”

— Michigan has great size. They’re long from the 2 to the 5. They were physical and OSU knew they’d have to be more physical than Michigan. The Wolverines fought for some key rebounds late in the season.

— “We’ll definitely see them again.” “Everybody wishes they could get this one back.”

— Give credit to Michigan for their shooting in the first half. The OSU defense wasn’t where it needed to be. It got better in the second half. Ten threes in the first half is unacceptable and it’s hard to win games like that.

— The Big Ten is the best basketball conference in the country and teams are at their best right now.

— Asked about Justice Sueing’s turnover at the end, he said he’s made those mistakes. He knows he’s going to get “Twitter beefed,” and that happens at big schools. He talked to Sueing a bit afterward. That’s not why they lost the game. “He’ll be fine. He’ll be back better than ever.”

EJ Liddell

— “They’re a good team. We didn’t adjust and we should’ve adjusted more.” They didn’t focus on the defense enough.

— “We’ve got to go back and watch the film and see what we need to do better.” They’ll work on their mistakes and hopefully get a win the next time out.

— On Hunter Dickinson: “He’s a big dude.” Sometimes Liddell adjusted properly, sometimes he didn’t. “I feel like I didn’t well most of the game.”

— “We can hang with them and we showed that. We just didn’t make them miss.” Giving up too many threes in the first half was rough.

— “We just can’t give up 92 points again.”

— This game showed why Michigan is the No. 3 team.”

[Duane Washington header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]