Michigan hasn’t had any luck against Ohio State on the football field or the basketball court in recent memory. The Buckeyes have completely owned the Wolverines in both sports these last few years and really showed no signs of letting up anytime soon. Thankfully, though, the basketball losing streak has ended as Michigan beat Ohio State yesterday 80-70.
This win over the Buckeyes is Michigan’s third straight overall. That means it’s the Wolverines’ third straight Big Ten win, which is something that hasn’t happened since early 2006. The win over OSU is by far the most impressive of the season and showed that this team is improving every game.
After a first half that went back and forth for 20 minutes and resulted in a 38-38 tie, the second half favored the Wolverines. The lead didn’t come easily, but thanks to a collective effort on both the offensive and defensive ends, Michigan put together a few runs to take over this game. Ohio State didn’t give up and cut a near double digit lead down to only a couple points, but Michigan kept at it and pulled away. Thanks to clutch free throw shooting by Manny Harris and a couple others, Michigan held on to its lead and sealed the deal with a great defensive stop to go on to win 80-70.
Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims had the best game out of anyone on the floor with 27 and 22 points respectively, but it was the other players that really stepped up to get this victory. Anthony Wright continued his surprisingly great play; Kelvin Grady played another solid game; and even David Merritt had a career game. Merritt left in the second half with what appeared to be a knee injury, but before that he was putting together an amazing game. He drove to the hoop on multiple occasions, drained a three-pointer, and set up his teammates for a few open looks as well.
Michigan’s 80-70 win came in front of a sold-out Crisler Arena. This was by far the best crowd of the season in more ways then one. The Maize Rage was actually filled and was loud all game. And then the rest of the crowd was just as rowdy, likely because Ohio State was the opponent. Around 100 of those rowdy fans were from Ohio State and had seats up in the nosebleeds. They actually started a “Tressel” chant during Rich Rodriguez’s speech at halftime, but Rodriguez just laughed it off by saying that he hoped they enjoyed their seats.
What makes this win so great is that it shows everyone just how much this team has improved. I would say the poster child for that is Anthony Wright, who has found his role on this team by becoming a three-point specialist. Similarly, big man DeShawn Sims is draining three’s on a regular basis now. He had four against OSU and is one of the best on this team from behind the arc. And what can be said about David Merritt? Many fans have wondered at times why he was even getting any playing time, but today’s performance definitely answered those questions.
Perhaps the best moment from the win came after the game had ended. The students rushed the court in celebration of the “W” and got to have a good time at a basketball game for a change. Normally I would criticize the students for rushing the court after a win against an unranked team, but I can’t blame them at all given the circumstances. I look at beating OSU as a type of moment where you just say “finally” and let out a sigh of relief. For the team, they finally beat OSU. For the students, they finally had a reason to celebrate.
Michigan will look for its fourth straight win on Thursday at Minnesota. Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.