In an early season Big Ten conference match up, it was another good start for the Wolverines. Michigan was able to find their offense early and slowly pull ahead in the first half. They built their lead up to twenty points and it looked like Michigan was going to move to 2-0 in conference play to start the season. But from there it completely unraveled and when the final buzzer rang out, the Wolverines were left with a shocking 71-62 defeat. It would be Ohio State, not Michigan that would go to 2-0 in the Big Ten.
Shortly before halftime, Ohio State completed a rarely seen, five point play in which they scored a three point basket while another of their players was being fouled. They connected on the ensuing two free throws, and Ohio State began their run. The Buckeyes would cut the deficit to 13 at the half, but a switch had been flipped. Ohio State suddenly had all of the momentum.
When the second half started, Ohio State couldn’t miss, and Michigan couldn’t find the net whatsoever. The run would balloon to 26-3 and suddenly it was Michigan who was down. After scraping back to a lead, Michigan would find themselves up by four points with a little less than five minutes left. However, a 15-2 run from OSU would slam the door on Michigan’s hopes of saving the game.
Tonight was a tale of two halves for Michigan. Scoring 43 in the first half, they could manage only 19 in the second. Their three point shooting was great in the first, connecting on eight three pointers in the first half, they would make zero in the second. On a night when the offense started well, the final numbers were ugly: 28.6% from three, and just 37.3% from the floor.
As Ohio State went on their extended run that covered both halves, Michigan could not find a way to stop the Buckeyes, and Jae’Sean Tate in particular, from getting to the rim for layups or from drawing fouls. The Wolverines committed an uncharacteristic 20 fouls tonight. One of the biggest may have been an offensive foul by Charles Matthews. The Michigan guard tried to force his way to the rim, looking to stop the Ohio State onslaught from getting worse, when he was whistled for the foul. After that, he never looked to score. Averaging over 15 points a game, Matthews would finish with just 4. Not a recipe for success.
Mortiz Wagner had a tough time of it against the Ohio State big men as well. He ended with 14 points and 9 rebounds, but committed three turnovers and four fouls and looked extremely agitated in the second half. When Michigan needed one of their leaders to step up as Ohio State came roaring back, none did. Twelve of Wagner’s fourteen points came in the first half, while similarly nine of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s final eleven came in the first as well.
One lone bright spot from the game was the improved play from the point guard position from both Eli Brooks and Zavier Simpson. Brooks was hot early and would score 8 for the Wolverines, while Simpson got much of his run in the second half and would end with 11 points. However, a costly turnover by Simpson in the final minutes may have sealed the loss.
Michigan will have no time to feel sorry for themselves, as they have UCLA coming to Crisler Center this Saturday and then on to a visit to Texas. The Wolverines responded well to their loss to North Carolina in their win against Indiana. It was also their loss to Ohio State last year that seemingly kick-started the team and led to the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Hopefully, Michigan can respond in a similar fashion this season as well.
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