College basketball is played in halves but this one breaks up almost perfectly into four quarters. Ohio State won two of the quarters, Michigan won one, and the final segment was played to a draw.
Michigan came out flat from the tip. They looked rattled and gave up easy basket after easy basket. Ohio State jumped out to a 9-0 lead and led 19-10 with 10:31 to play in the first half. Give the first quarter to Ohio State. Then the light came on for the Wolverines and they closed the half on 23-12 run and led by one at the half.
Ohio State took control of the game in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They turned a 1 point deficit into an 11 point lead with 10:27 to play. The final 10 minutes were dead even, Michigan made a number of “mini-runs” but couldn’t seem to get the game closer than 7 points.
So what happened? Mostly Ohio State is just a much more talented team. When you recruit as well as the Buckeyes have over the last few years, you are bound to reap the benefits eventually. Here’s a breakdown of the top 100 players (RSCI) on the floor:
Michigan has two players on the list. Ohio State has five. I’m pretty comfortable saying that Ohio State’s starting five is the best in the conference.
They have the best player in the country but they also have a nearly perfect collection of talented complementary players. Diebler is the sharpshooter. Buford is an athlete who can shoot and is projected as a lottery pick by next year. Lighty is the proverbial glue guy who can do a bit of everything. Finally, Lauderdale can clog the middle and finish inside.
Their lack of a bench could come back to bite them in March but I think they have a legitimate chance to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Back to today’s contest, Michigan lost because they regressed toward their season averages shooting the ball in the second half. Michigan’s shooting line in the first half (eFG/2pt/3pt) was 54.2/41.2/57.1 compared to only 28.2/38.5/10 in the second half. You can’t win games, especially on the road, shooting the ball that poorly.
Despite Ohio State’s lights out shooting (63/63.8/40), Michigan managed to stay around by winning the turnover battle. Evan Turner had 8 turnovers along while Michigan only had 6 as a team. Ohio State coughed the ball up on 20.7% of their possessions compared to Michigan turning it over on only 10.2% of theirs. But Michigan’s defense was lacking overall, the Buckeyes got way too many easy baskets both in their halfcourt offense as well as in transition. Ohio State scored 1.14 points per possession, while Michigan scored only .984 points per trip.
Ohio State did have a couple back-breaking offensive rebounds but Michigan didn’t do that bad on the defensive glass, rebounding 72% of Ohio State’s misses. Michigan also got to the free throw line more often (42.6 FTR) than the Buckeyes (32.6 FTR) which helped to mitigate the second chance points and let Michigan hang around.
It’s clear that Michigan hasn’t quit. They still appearing to be giving effort on both sides of the ball. Today they were simply outmatched by a better team (from top to bottom) that is in the midst of the Big Ten title race. Next up is a home game with a Minnesota team that Michigan knocked off in Minneapolis earlier this month.
- Manny Harris: Harris scored 2 points through the first 30 minutes or so of play. He managed to get to the free throw line late but missed the front-end of a one-and-one when Michigan was down 7. Harris was 1 of 8 for the game and that’s just not good enough. It was only the second time in Harris’ career he just made one field goal, the other was a 51-34 Big Ten Tournament loss to Wisconsin during Harris’ freshman year.
- DeShawn Sims: Sometimes it’s clear from the jump that DeShawn Sims doesn’t have his A-game. Sims looked tentative from the start and finished with 11 points on only 4 of 12 shooting. Sims had a ridiculous start to Big Ten play that would have been hard to keep up but some of his performances lately have been disappointing. 2 of 9 at Northwestern, 4 of 10 vs. Penn State, 3 of 12 vs. Illinois, and now 4 of 12 at Ohio State.
- Darius Morris: The kid is coming around. 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting, 3 assists to 1 turnover. Morris had his fair share of luck (banked three) but you can see his improvement over the course of the season.
- Stu Douglass: The way Douglass has been shooting, it’s tough to complain about a 4 for 6 (2-4 3pt) night. Michigan had a low number of assists across the board but Douglass’ 0 assists in in 37 minutes tells you just about all you need to know about how Michigan’s offense was running. One other note, it was just brutal whenever Douglass ended up switched onto Turner, the All-American shot right over Douglass.
- Zack Novak: Novak hit a few shots but he also got stuck throwing up some ugly desperation attempts. 11 points on 8 shots but that includes 1 of 4 two point shooting and a pair of missed free throws.
- Zack Gibson: 4 rebounds in 11 minutes with a bucket to go along. Gibson looks to have secured the minutes backing up both Sims and Novak at this point, but I’m not sure it has made much of a tangible difference.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: 14 minutes and 0 for 3 shooting with nothing else on the stat line. LLP must have been honoring Mark Titus with his Club Trillion-esque performance.