For the first time all season, Ohio State (7-3, 2-0 Big Ten) came back from a daunting double-digit second-half deficit, defeating Michigan (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) 71-62 at the Schottenstein Center on Monday.
Ohio State lost to both Butler and Clemson after miserable second halfs that ruined first-half leads, but outscored the Wolverines 41-19 in the second half after falling behind 43-30 at the end of the first half to come away with the win. The Buckeyes finished the game on a 15-2 run. Michigan went 5-for-29 in the second half, including just 1-for-12 from beyond the arc.
The Buckeyes trailed by as much as 43-23, but carried a 7-0 run at the end of the first half into a 17-3 run to open the second half, then took the lead with 12:29 left in the game.
Junior forward Jae’Sean Tate capped off the first-half run with a thundering, one-handed slam over Michigan forward Moritz Wagner to send the 12,546 fans in the Schott to their feet for the first time the entire game. Tate finished with 14 points and four rebounds in the game.
“It was pretty loud in there. I haven’t really heard the Schott that loud. [Tate’s] dunk set it off,” redshirt senior guard Kam Williams said. “
Head coach Chris Holtmann said cutting into the lead and making it just a 13-point game going into halftime helped Ohio State gain some momentum when it needed it most, and proved to be important in sparking the team’s second-half comeback.
“It’s just so much more manageable than when you’re saying 20 up there,” Holtmann said. We actually had a chance to cut it to 11. I had used my timeout and didn’t want to use it again. We didn’t get a great shot late, but that was very important to just get a little bit of momentum in that last minute-and-a-half.”
Bates-Diop was fouled on his way up with 12:29 remaining in the second half and tied the game with his first free throw, then dropped in the second one to give Ohio State its first lead of the game at 47-46. Bates-Diop ended the game with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Michigan later retook a 57-56 lead with 5:48 left on a free throw by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and extended it to two points with the second make. The game was tied again on a baseline jumper from Williams at 60-60 with 3:38 left in the game. Guard C.J. Jackson made the first free-throw try with 2:59 remaining to give Ohio State a 61-60 lead. The Buckeyes pulled away to a 67-60 advantage with four more free throws by Jackson and two from Bates-Diop.
It was clear early that the Michigan offense was able to spread the Ohio State defense out with passes from baseline to baseline and screens to shake pursuing defenders, opening up lanes for easy points in the paint and finding chances for its guards to shoot from beyond the arc. By halftime, Michigan had run up a 43-30 lead and led in both 3-pointers (7-5) and points in the paint (20-10).
With 14:18 left in the first half, the Buckeye defense switched to a 2-3 zone, but found little success against the Michigan offense that continued to exploit the zone. The Wolverines went on a 22-11 run to push their lead out to 36-17.
Holtmann said coming out of the half, his team had a determination to be totally different than it played in the first half when things were not going right for his team.
“Defensively, we had to change some things at half time because you watch a ton of tape and you put a scouting report together and you think it’s going to work like it worked against Wisconsin, and your guys execute,” Holtmann said. “When they come out and they attack it in a way that really exposes us, so we had to make some changes, so that I think combined with just our guys’ effort was critical.”
Wagner led Michigan players with 14 points and nine rebounds. Guards Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson were tied for the second-most points with 11 points each.
Bates-Diop said between the 83-59 road win against Wisconsin and the second-half comeback against Michigan, the Buckeyes are starting to get an idea of what the ceiling could be if they continue their success.
“If we play like we did in the second half all game, the game’s really not even that close and Michigan’s a good team,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s hard to win in Wisconsin no matter what year it is. So if we carry these things as the rest of non-conference and into the regular season Big Ten, I think sky’s the limit for us. We can be really good.”
Ohio State stays home for a matchup at noon Saturday against William and Mary.