The one thing missing on Ohio State’s resume was a true quality win. OSU was 0-3 against ranked opponents coming into Sunday’s home game with No. 2 Michigan.
Thad Matta discusses the win over Michigan
Well, the Buckeyes have one now.
No. 15 Ohio State got 20 points from Deshaun Thomas in handing previously unbeaten Michigan a 56-53 defeat before a sellout crowd of 18,809 Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena.
“I hope we get confidence from this victory moving forward,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “This game signifies the halfway point of the season, but we’ve still got a lot of games left and we have to continue to improve.
“We can say we beat a great basketball team.”
Michigan came in as one of the most explosive teams in the country, ranking fourth in field goal percentage (51.4 percent) and 10th in points per game (80.8 ppg). But the Buckeyes (13-3, 3-1) held the Wolverines (16-1, 3-1) to just 38.3 percent shooting (18 of 47). The 53-point output is nine lower than UM’s previous season of low of 62 against Nebraska.
With Duke’s loss to N.C. State on Saturday, Michigan was the game’s only remaining unbeaten team. Michigan was vying to become No. 1 in the national polls for the first time in 20 years with a win. UM could have also set a school record with its 17th straight win to open a season with the victory.
“There’s always satisfaction in denying Michigan the No. 1 spot in the country,” said OSU center Evan Ravenel, who had a pair of late baskets to help the Buckeyes pull it out.
Michigan coach John Beilein said the lost chance to be No. 1 was the farthest thing from his mind.
Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and Evan Ravenel recap win over Michigan
“The rankings are irrelevant,” Beilein said. “We are just worried about getting better. As teams get into conference play, the rankings will show who really is in it and they will have some relevance.”
Ohio State led by as many as 21 points in the first half and by 12 at the half. The Buckeyes then watched as Michigan rallied to tie the game with six minutes left before OSU scored six straight points to grab the lead for good.
“At times we lost our composure tonight and during a timeout I had to remind them of Will Ferrell’s quote ‘ELE – everybody love everybody,’ ” Matta joked. “But we pulled out the victory and I’m proud of them.”
Thomas hit on 8 of 18 shots from the floor, including 3 of 7 on three-pointers for the Buckeyes.
“We showed toughness and composure today,” Thomas said. “They hit some big shots but we had key rebounds that helped us keep our composure and win the game.
“I was excited. I was pumped. I was geeked. I was happy for my teammates. I think we were all ready.”
Sam Thompson and Aaron Craft each had nine points for OSU. Thompson also had four rebounds, while Craft had four assists.
Trey Burke had 15 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 12 for Michigan. Craft was charged with defending Burke, a Columbus native and one of the college game’s top guards averaging 18 points and seven assists per game this year. Burke was just 4 of 13 from the floor and he had a potential go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute went in and out.
Sam Thompson had a steal and dunk for OSU
“He had a unique way about him today before the game,” Matta said of Craft. “I didn’t say anything to him because I knew he was going to play at the level we needed him to in order to win. During a timeout he even said, ‘Stop helping, I’ll do the job.’“
Craft added, “Anytime you get to play against a great guy like him you have some incentive to go out and see what you can do. Our defense did was it needed to do today and that really helped.”
The Buckeyes got off to a huge start, building a 21-point lead just inside seven minutes left in the half. But Michigan rallied to cut it to 12 at 34-22 at the intermission. Thomas led the way with 11 first-half points, followed by Craft and Thompson with seven each.
OSU hit 12 of its first 18 shots from the floor in building a 29-8 lead. Meanwhile, Michigan hit just 3 of its first 12 shots. The Wolverines ended up shooting 36.8 percent (7 of 19) for the half and had nine turnovers.
Burke actually drew first blood with a three for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes then reeled off 16 straight points as the Wolverines could not find the mark. This run included a Thomas 17-footer, a rebound basket by Amir Williams, a Craft three, a Smith layup off a UM turnover, back-to-back drives by Craft and finally a three from Thomas. That three, which made it 16-3, was set up by a Ravenel steal and an assist from Shannon Scott.
After UM’s Glenn Robinson III hit a three, Thomas completed a three-point play, Thompson hit a three off a Craft assist and Thompson had a breakaway jam off a turnover by UM’s Caris LeVert. The lead went to 20 at 26-6 on a driving bank shot by Thompson. OSU’s biggest lead of 21 points came when Williams made 1 of 2 free throws for a 29-8 lead with 6:52 left.
"We came out too slow in the first half and missed (opportunities),” Burke said. “In the second half we came out like we should have come out in the first half. We were ready. It’s a long game. We just had too many turnovers and missed shots.”
But Michigan charged back by outscoring OSU 14-5 over the final six minutes of the half. Backup guard Spike Albrecht had seven of those points as UM trimmed the gap to 34-22 at the half. OSU missed seven of its last nine shots of the half.
Thomas led the Buckeyes with 20 points
“We said there’s only one way we’re going to do this: stop-by-stop; possession-by-possession,” Beilein said of UM’s comeback. “We thought we had to be more efficient offensively.”
Michigan gradually chipped away early in the second half as OSU’s shooting woes continued. UM quickly got it down to eight at 37-29 after a rebound basket by Mitch McGary with 15:09 left.
OSU got it back out to 11 at 44-33 after Thomas grabbed a rebound deep on the baseline, sidestepped UM’s Nik Stauskas and threw down a dunk over UM’s Jordan Morgan.
But Michigan then reeled off 10 straight, including seven by Tim Hardaway Jr., to get it down to one at 44-43 with 6:57 left.
OSU countered as Scott fed Thompson an alley oop for a dunk and a 46-43 lead. But the freshman Robinson calmly drilled a three from the right wing to tie it at 46-46 with 5:56 left.
OSU worked the ball on the ensuing possession before Scott drove and fed Ravenel for a dunk and a 48-46 lead with 5:27 left. After a UM miss, the ball again went to Ravenel on the block. He turned and banked one in over his defender for a 50-46 lead with 4:48 left.
After Hardaway misfired on a three, the Buckeyes went to Thomas on the block. He spun around his defender and banked it in for a 52-46 lead with 4:10 left.
“There were some mismatches,” Thomas said of those critical scores. “They switched (on every pick) and that left some mismatches for me and Rav down there. We trust Craft and Shannon to throw it down there and they give us good angles to the basket and it works. It’s easy buckets.”
Ravenel said, “They were basketball plays. If teams are going to switch, we have to take advantage of the mismatch.”
Burke hit a pair of free throws to cut it to 52-48 with 1:37 left. OSU’s Smith then had his pass for Thomas picked off and Robinson converted it for a dunk, cutting the OSU lead to 52-50 with 1:14 left.
Thomas then drove in the lane and tried a one-hander from 12 feet, but it was off the mark and Robinson rebounded with 42 seconds left. UM called timeout with 29.9 seconds left to set up a play to either tie it or go ahead.
Burke got the inbounds pass and dribbled against Craft before stepping back for a potential go-ahead three. But his shot went in and out and OSU’s Lenzelle Smith Jr. rebounded it and was fouled with 13.9 seconds left.
“On that last shot, some go in and some go out,” Burke said. “I think it went in and out.”
Beilein backed his star player, saying, “The shot clock was going down. He can make that shot. Obviously, you would like something a bit better. But it was a pretty good shot and it did go halfway down.”
Craft said he feared the jumper was going in.
“It was a great shot,” Craft said. “I thought it was going to go in as I turned around to watch it. (Smith) did a great job of grabbing the rebound. (Burke) is a great player. He’s done a great job of getting better from going from his freshman to his sophomore year.”
Smith was then fouled on the inbounds play and sent to the line for a one-and-one with 12.7 seconds left. He calmly swished them both for a 54-50 lead. Burke missed on a three and Craft rebounded. He was fouled and made two free throws for a 56-50 lead with 6.2 seconds left.
Burke hit a three with one second left. But OSU inbounded the ball and that was that.
“Defensively we made stops and we also got big rebounds when we needed them,” Matta said. “Those were the biggest difference in this game.”
Williams added six points and four rebounds, while Ravenel had six points and three rebounds. Smith had four points and matched his career-high with 10 rebounds.
* With 1,222 career points, Thomas moves to No. 33 on the all-time scoring list at Ohio State. He needs two points to pass John Havlicek for thirty-second all-time.
He has scored in double figures in all 16 games this season and totaled 20 or more points in nine contests.
* Ohio State now leads the all-time series with Michigan 93-72, including a 53-26 edge in Columbus. Since his arrival in 2004-05, OSU coach Thad Matta is now 17-3 against Michigan. The Buckeyes have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Wolverines over the last three-plus years.
“Being 17-3 (against Michigan) is awesome,” Craft said of his coach’s record against the Maize and Blue. “Thad Matta is an awesome coach and he does a phenomenal job of getting us ready through practice and especially on game day. That is why he is one of the best coaches in the country.”
Since Value City Arena opened in 1998-99, OSU is 12-1 against Michigan. The lone loss was in 2003 (61-50) and the Buckeyes have won nine straight home games over the Wolverines.
Ohio State took two out of three games over Michigan last year. The Buckeyes won at home (64-49), lost at Ann Arbor (56-51) and rolled to a win in the Big Ten tournament semifinals in Indianapolis (77-55).
* Michigan is 1-1 against ranked teams this year. Michigan’s lone previous game against a ranked team was a 79-72 win over then-No. 18 N.C. State on Nov. 27. This was the first of four road games against ranked teams in the next three weeks for the Wolverines.
* Ohio State is now 71-20 vs. Big Ten opponents at Value City Arena. Ohio State owns a 147-13 home record during the Matta era. The Buckeyes are 65-4 in Columbus over the past four seasons. That includes a 9-1 home record this year
* Matta’s OSU teams are a combined 39-47 against ranked teams in his nine years with the Buckeyes. OSU is 1-3 against ranked teams this year with their loss at then-No. 2 Duke on Nov. 29 (73-68), the home loss to then-No. 9 Kansas (74-66) on Dec. 22 and the loss at then No. 11-Illinois (74-55) last Saturday.
In 13 years as a college head coach, Matta’s teams are a combined 48-56 against ranked teams. In the 15 years OSU has played at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes are 32-16 against ranked teams. That includes a 12-5 mark against top-10 teams.
This was the eighth time in 15 seasons that Ohio State has hosted a top-five team at Value City Arena. OSU is now 6-2 all-time against top-five teams at VCA.
* Michigan was looking to extend its unbeaten streak and set the program's all-time record for a start to a season, bettering the mark of 16-0 set in 1985-86.
* OSU visits No. 22 Michigan State (13-3, 2-1) next Saturday at 6 p.m. That game will be televised by ESPN.
* Click here for the OSU-Michigan box score.
Click here for Dave Biddle’s What We Learned column.