Pace of play and effort have been things Ohio State coach Thad Matta has been begging to see from his team since Big Ten play began. On Saturday night the Buckeyes finally put forth the kind of effort Matta had been looking for, for weeks.
OSU picked up a big 70-66 win at Michigan on Saturday night with senior forward Marc Loving leading the way with 17 points. Redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson and junior forward Jae’Sean Tate added 13.
It was all about offensive rebounds and second-chance points for OSU, as the Buckeyes pulled down 16 offensive boards, leading to 19 points. Michigan could only muster seven second-chance points on seven offensive rebounds.
Thompson was a dominant force in the paint, but Michigan senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. was just at effective on the other end. Even after the Wolverines scampered out to a 16-8 lead with a 7-0 run to start the game, OSU battled its way back.
Thompson picked up his seventh double-double this season, grabbing 11 rebounds with his 13 points.
Walton Jr. picked up 25 points, knocking down six 3-pointers, taking advantage of an OSU defense that has been guilty of leaving shooters open this year. Michigan sophomore forward Moritz Wagner, who has been averaging 11.9 points per game, was a non-factor, picking up just five points in five minutes.
OSU sophomore guard C.J. Jackson started for sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle, who injured his ankle and did not participate in the team shootaround. Jackson picked up eight points in his first start as a Buckeye, and Lyle tallied three points of his own off the bench.
The Buckeyes had a turnover problem, giving Michigan the ball 16 times, and allowing 18 Wolverine points off their miscues.
After holding a one-point lead heading into the break, OSU kept up the intensity at the start of the second. Senior Marc Loving knocked down a 3, then Thompson dropped in a layup to stretch the Buckeyes’ lead to six.
Michigan kept things tight with a barrage of 3-pointers throughout the game. The Wolverines attempted 35 shots from behind the arc, knocking down 13.
The combination of Thompson and junior forward Jae’Sean Tate in the paint was a thorn in the side of Michigan. OSU continually attacked the paint, forcing 22 fouls against a Michigan team that averaged just 15 committed fouls per game.
However, OSU continued to give Walton Jr. open looks. With less than a minute left, Walton Jr. had a chance to tie the game at 65 on a layup and a tip-in after an offensive rebound, but was unable to find the bottom of the net. Late free throws by Lyle gave OSU a four-point lead, but Walton Jr. found an open spot on the floor again.
Walton knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 67-66 Michigan, and Lyle knocked down just one free throw, pushing the OSU lead to two with the door wide open for the Wolverines. A missed mid-range jumper sealed the deal for Michigan, and two Loving free throws gave OSU all the room it needed.
The win for OSU now gives them a 4-7 record in the Big Ten, and some possible momentum for the conference tournament as the season winds down. The Buckeyes return to Columbus on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. to face Rutgers.