Ohio State won another tough Big Ten battle tonight, beating arch-rival Michigan 62-53.
The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Buckeyes were out of sync offensively. They turned the ball over and could not hit open shots. They scored 23 points, had several defensive breakdowns, and went into the locker room trailing after what was surely their worst half of basketball this season.
In the second half, the Buckeyes successfully pounded the ball inside. Jared Sullinger again was a man among boys, pulling down strong rebounds and somehow getting the ball in the bucket despite being double- and triple-teamed. Aaron Craft bounced back from a sloppy first half to make some key inside buckets, William Buford knocked down some key shots, Jon Diebler played tough defense and ably fed the post, and David Lighty again showed his athleticism with great rebounding and defensive play. All of the Buckeyes displayed their stamina in the second half, too, because Coach Thad Matta did not make a single substitution. The Buckeyes scored 39 points in the half, pulled away from the overmatched Wolverines, and would have scored even more had they not been thoroughly mediocre from the free throw line. Free throw shooting and fatigue will be a concern for Ohio State fans as the team comes down the stretch of the Big Ten season.
Ohio State now stands at 23-0. Equally important, they have swept the season series with the Wolverines — and beating The Team Up North never gets old.