A brilliant first half performance from Michigan sent the Wolverines into the locker room at halftime up 39-21 on Ohio State. It was the best 20 minutes of basketball played by the young Wolverines all season, and the attack propelled them to the upset of the Buckeyes.
Zak Irvin made his presence felt by doing everything for his team—grabbing big boards, diving for loose balls, finding open teammates and of course hitting from deep. His tenacious play, especially in the first half, was largely felt by the Wolverines.
Michigan allowed the Buckeyes to come charging back throughout the second half. At one point, the Wolverines went into a seven-minute scoring drought, while Ohio State stormed back to cut the lead to single digits. D’Angelo Russell finally found his stroke, and the Buckeyes’ offense as a whole began playing much better through him.
The real story of the comeback was Michigan’s inability to deal with the pressure put on by the Ohio State defense. Spike Albrecht, Michigan’s best ball handler, was denied the ball consistently. The Wolverines finally were able to get out of the funk, but it was clear they weren’t comfortable with the pressure.
The most curious part of today’s game was Michigan throwing the ball down to the low post to all three of its big men and letting them go to work—like what you would expect to see in a more traditional offense.
Max Bielfeldt made a few questionable decisions with the ball in his hands, though his production on the glass made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle have a little more low post ability than Bielfeldt, but there is obviously some work to still be done down there.
What Michigan was able to do on defense ultimately won this game. Ohio State struggled to pull down offensive rebounds, and the Buckeyes turned the ball over 14 times.
To cap off the defensive effort for the Wolverines, Albrecht picked the pocket of Russell with 55 seconds remaining as he was bringing the ball up the court and converted twice on the free throw line after being fouled. That sequence sealed the upset.
Ohio State Team Leaders
POINTS — D’Angelo Russell, 16
ASSISTS — Shannon Scott, 3
REBOUNDS — Amir Williams, 8
Michigan Team Leaders
POINTS — Spike Albrecht, 16
ASSISTS — Spike Albrecht, 5
REBOUNDS — Zak Irvin, 7
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.