On a day of celebration for Michigan athletics — a day that they introduced Brady Hoke as the program’s new football coach — the Ohio State men’s basketball team put at least a mild damper on the spirits of Wolverine fans.
With Hoke sitting courtside, the No. 2 Buckeyes (17-0, 4-0 Big Ten) beat the Wolverines, 68-64, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
No. 1 Duke lost to Florida State, 66-61, Wednesday night.
The Wolverines began the game firing on all cylinders from beyond the 3-point line, jumping out to a 16-10 lead. But OSU answered with an 8-0 run and took a 35-34 lead to the break.
Michigan began the second half struggling from the field. After tying the game 41-41 with more than 16 minutes remaining, the Wolverines went nearly six minutes without scoring, sending OSU on a 12-0 run.
But just as Minnesota did to OSU on Sunday, Michigan mounted a comeback and eventually cut the lead to two with less than a minute remaining. Although the Buckeyes had struggled from the free-throw line all night, junior William Buford and freshman Aaron Craft each made two free throws in the final minute to put away the game. OSU shot just 68.8 percent from the free-throw line, a percentage not helped by senior forward David Lighty’s 6-of-13 effort.
Buford, who along with Lighty played all 40 minutes, led the Buckeyes with a game-high 19 points. Craft finished with 10 points and, for the fourth game straight, played more than 30 minutes despite coming off the bench.
Freshman Jared Sullinger fouled out for the first time in his career and, due in large part to Michigan’s defense, had perhaps his worst game as a Buckeye. Although he scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, Sullinger had a career-high six turnovers and often looked out of sync when faced with a double-team.
Sophomore Darius Morris scored 18 points for the Wolverines and junior Zack Novak added 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Wednesday night’s game was the second consecutive close loss for the Wolverines, who took No. 3 Kansas to overtime on Sunday before eventually losing, 67-60.
The Buckeyes return home to play Penn State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.