After nearly 10 minutes, the Ohio State men’s basketball team had seven points, while Zak Irvin had eight.
Irvin, a sophomore guard, and the Michigan Wolverines jumped out to an early 19-7 lead before holding on to top the No. 24 Buckeyes, 64-57, Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich.
After falling behind by 20 in the first half, OSU (19-8, 8-6) pulled within three late, but the Wolverines (14-13, 7-8) held on to force a split of their season series with the Buckeyes.
On Saturday, OSU senior guard Shannon Scott said earning a bye at the Big Ten Tournament was a top priority for the Buckeyes.
“We know we want to be a top-four team so we can get a bye for the Big Ten Tournament, but we don’t think about that as we play,” Scott said. “We just want to play our best basketball.”
The loss to Michigan means the Buckeyes are now tied with Indiana for fifth in the conference. OSU and the Hoosiers split their season series, but the Buckeyes have just four regular season games to improve their stock before the tournament.
OSU didn’t register a point until the 16:15 mark in the first half, when freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate converted a layup. The Buckeyes missed their first four shot attempts, while Michigan connected on three of its first four.
Michigan’s 7-0 start eventually ballooned all the way to 31-11 with 6:36 on the first-half clock. OSU closed the half on a 12-8 run, but the Wolverines took a 16-point lead into the locker rooms.
OSU freshman guard D’Angelo Russell drew first blood in the second half with an early 3-pointer, but Michigan tacked on a long ball of its own just 38 seconds later.
Russell completed a three-point play to pull OSU back within 12 with 11:11 to play, then added a 3-pointer to pull the Buckeyes within single digits for the first time since early in the first half. He continued to carry the offense with a layup, making the score 49-42 at the under-8 timeout.
Two free-throws by sophomore forward Marc Loving and a jumper by freshman forward Keita Bates-Diop made it a three-point game with less than seven minutes to go, but Irvin responded with a 3-pointer to double Michigan’s advantage.
OSU missed three straight free throws with less than three minutes to play. The Wolverines countered with an Irvin layup and two free throws by junior guard Spike Albrecht to make it a double-digit game with under a minute to go.
Russell (16 points) and Bates-Diop (12 points) were the only Buckeyes to score in double figures as OSU shot just 42 percent from the field.
Albrecht tied Russell for the game high with 16 points to go with four rebounds and five assists, while Irving tallied 15 points and seven rebounds in the win.
The Buckeyes are now 3-7 away from home, while they hold a 16-1 record in Columbus.
OSU is scheduled to return to the court against Nebraska on Thursday to start a streak of two straight home games for the first time since January. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.