Game 24: Michigan at Ohio State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt


Michigan 70, Ohio State 60. Beilein press conference. Player press conference. Box score.

For 10 minutes Michigan looked like it was going to get run off the floor again. The Wolverines missed shot after shot and didn’t seem too concerned with playing transition defense, surrendering layup after layup to an Ohio State team that typically struggles to score.

But there was something different – Michigan hung around. The Buckeyes were able to stretch their lead to 26-16 with just over six minutes to play in the first half when Michigan finally had enough. The Wolverines didn’t allow another Ohio State field goal in the first half and finished the half on a 10-4 run.

The run gave Michigan confidence and with a few halftime adjustments the Wolverines were able to outscore Ohio State 44-30 in the second half. It was eerily similar to Michigan’s rope-a-dope routine in East Lansing. The Wolverines held around just long enough and made a timely second half run to seize the lead midway through the second half.

While seven Wolverines scored in the second half, it was freshman point guard Derrick Walton that stole the show. After being held scoreless in the first, Walton racked up 13 points in the second and finished the game with 10 rebounds and six assists in a marquee performance.

With Aaron Craft fastened to Nik Stauskas, Walton was forced to make plays. He scored for himself – knocking down a three, getting fouled on another and finishing a pair of difficult finishes at the rim – but he also created for others with six assists.


Michigan’s offense did one thing throughout the entire game: crash the  glass. Unfortunately that’s about all it could do for the first 10 minutes of the game. The Wolverines had trouble converting second chances in the first half, but eventually wore down Ohio State with their ability to get to 50-50 balls and generate second chances. Michigan dominated the backboard on both sides of the floor and that proved to be perhaps the biggest factor in the win.

While the Wolverines looked hopeless offensively for much of the first half – they couldn’t seem to initiate any offense and missed almost everything around the rim – they bounced back. Michigan is the best 2-point shooting team in the conference and shot just 27% on twos in the first half. In many ways it was lucky to manage a meager .94 points per possession in the opening frame.

But the second half was a much different story. Michigan’s offense exploded and scored 44 points in 31 possessions – a pristine 1.42 points per trip. All in all, Michigan’s 1.19 points per possession for the game was the best offensive performance against the Buckeyes this season. The Wolverines won this game by finally cracking one of the best defensive units in the country.

Defensively, Michigan failed to hold an opponent under a point per possession for the eighth time in conference play.

The Wolverines had no answer for LaQuinton Ross (24 points on 8-of-17 shooting), but they did a better job of playing scouting report defense on the other Buckeyes. Michigan dared Ohio State’s weaker shooters to shoot the ball, while clogging the lane to prevent driving lanes. Walton played off Craft for much of the game and Craft finally tested him late by firing up an air ball.

Ohio State attempted 39% of its field goals from 3-point range and shot just 15% from long distance. Lenzelle Smith Jr. (3-of-9) was the only Buckeye to make a 3-point field goal. The same threes that killed Michigan against Iowa and Indiana rimmed out harmlessly and the Wolverines were able to corral 76% of Ohio State’s numerous misses. Some of Ohio State’s missed threes were definitely open, so chalk up the misses to a bit of luck and good scouting.

There are still major defensive problems to fix, but this team has enough offensive firepower to mask most pressing concerns. The amount of resilience that this group showed to bounce back after a deflating loss in Iowa City was beyond impressive. These Wolverines aren’t flawless, but they are in first place and accomplished a feat that no Michigan team has done since 1993 by winning at Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.  Michigan already has one more Big Ten road win than it managed last season and upcoming home games against Wisconsin and Michigan State in the next week and a half could give the Wolverines a stranglehold on the conference title race.

Michigan v Ohio State 0Zu0S5mWOT1l[1]

Player Bullets:

  • Derrick Walton: I remember raving about Trey Burke making winning plays against Michigan State and Ohio State during his freshman year – those plays were at home. Walton has made decisive plays on the road at Michigan’s biggest rivals. He’s far from faultless but just look at his numbers: 13 points (all in the second half), 10 rebounds, six assists and a steal in 36 minutes. If teams are going to take Stauskas out of the game, Michigan will need Walton to keep providing performances like this. There might be growing pains along the way, but it’s hard not to be excited about his leadership, winning mentality and potential.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin just checks into the game and starts firing. His confidence is soaring right now and why not? 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting with 3 rebounds and two turnovers in 20 minutes. Both of his 3-point makes seemed to trigger Michigan runs in the first and second half, but the next step is for him to improve defensively.
  • Nik Stauskas: There was a lot of discussion about what adjustments Michigan can make to get Stauskas more involved when the opponent tries to deny him for 40 minutes. I thought Michigan made several tonight. They flipped the offense several times to add movement, ran more isolation sets for Walton and also ran much more off ball action for Stauskas and were more effective getting him involved in the dribble handoff set. Stauskas had a quietly efficient 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting performance against Aaron Craft on the road – that’s nothing to sneeze at.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert had 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting (1-6 3pt) with 2 assists and a steal in 38 minutes. He seemed to stall the offense several times by trying to create something off the bounce. There were a few too many drives like the photo above where LeVert seemed to overdribble into a crowd of Buckeye defenders.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson really struggled, but he got his sweet redemption with a corner three to put Michigan up seven points with 2:47 to play. It was the sort of shot that if it goes in, Michigan just has to win. Robinson only had 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting before that point, but it was tough to complain with a lot of the looks he was taking – they just weren’t falling. He needs confidence and hopefully his late make will provide some of that. He also grabbed an impressive four offensive rebounds in 24 minutes.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan got a bit jumpy around the basket a couple of times, but he was a man on the offensive glass. He grabbed eight rebounds – 6 offensive – and scored 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting.
  • Jon Horford: Horford was a +20 in 20 minutes and Jordan Morgan was a –10. He provided a timely scoring outlet for Derrick Walton – finally discovering the connection that’s been lacking all season – and he finished with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
  • Spike Albrecht: Walton essentially went the distance in the second half and Albrecht didn’t leave the bench until Michigan needed him against Ohio State’s press. He finished with 1 missed field goal and a turnover in five minutes.
  • And for fun:

    • kam

      HAHAHAH look how he holds his follow through even after the ball sails out of bounds.. He seems to have gotten worse since his sophomore year and its obvious why.. Lack of talent.. He was great when sully and all those guys were the main option and he could just play amazing D and facilitate the offense and make the occasional nice drive to the hoop, but when he’s a main offensive option thats a problem for him.

      • Mattski

        I was laughing about Dakich’s comment that Craft can smell other team’s fear, because the look of fear in that kid’s eyes as the game wore down was also pretty clear. He’s a neat player, but man it’s great to beat OSU in Columbus!

      • MAZS

        No question about Craft’s defense–its legit. And the “smelling fear” meme holds some truth as well. But Craft is simply a poor offensive player and point guard. Not only can’t he shoot (with little hope of it improving) but he is an over-rated facilitator and mediocre passer. He’s too niche for the next level.

  • kam

    Jon low key played a great game. And Walton next year is going to be a stud I can see it. Love Irvins offense off the bench. Glenn needs to use that athletic ability and finish at the rim. I liked what I saw with nik besides a few bad passes.. Caris didn’t have his best game but made a few plays. Morgan struggles with tips lol ohh and that Dan and trico combo was awkward, funny and werid at times. Great win! Who besides me thought we would be 13-2 right now? Ok I didn’t haha but in glad we are! JB has done an amazing job maybe just cut out the 2-3 zone. I live in Ohio so it’s great feeling the buckeye tears all around! Lets get Wisky now!

    • guestavo

      Irvin is a pure scorer. He needs to work on the other end of the floor and rounding out the rest of his game but he is special. Glenn will have better days and is going through some growing pains. We have a great future, even if some of our sophomores leave for the draft.

  • guestavo

    All I will say is that the Caris overdribbling stopped once Walton showed up and Robinson hit that 3 (which Caris assisted)… and it isn’t by coincidence.

  • countourzealous

    It’s been interesting to watch Stauskas being guarded by small guys. Ultimately, Walton plays a big role in taking advantage of that mismatch. He needs to use his speed and ball skills, which he did tonight. He was consistently in the right place at the right time. I’m getting really excited about this young guy (Irvin as well… damn his stroke is pretty).

    • gobluemd16

      Haha I wouldn’t say his stroke is pretty, but it sure is effective!

  • Wayman Britt

    Walton did a great job of finishing after contact. He was also a beast at 6 feet on the boards, hopefully his teammates feed off his play.

    • Fred Z in Ann Arbor

      Wayman Britt was a pretty damn good rebounder at 6’2″ if I remember correctly.

      • Mattski

        You just prompted me to go look at his wikipedia page. Flint Northern guy, great defender. That was just when I started following Michigan basketball as a high schooler at Huron.

  • Mattski

    Five days to prep for Wisconsin, then a week to get ready for MSU–both at home. Both life and the schedule suddenly look pretty good!

    • Mattski

      Morford–someone noted–had a double-double. You don’t tend to notice the awesome when it’s out there, but. . . 7-9 the stats I’m looking at say.

  • Indiana_Matt

    Great stuff. You know, you could get some sleep and post in the morning. We wouldn’t mind :) Thanks for the continued dedication of this site.

    • Had to wake up and drive to work :-)

      • Indiana_Matt

        If you do not yet have children, you are going to make the transition to very little sleep quite easily.

      • countourzealous

        Here I was thinking UMHoops was a full-time gig.

  • JeremyS

    This game was won on all the rebounds that Michigan had. Those 14 offensive boards and 39 total was the most since Coppin State, and by far the most in B10 play. The OR% was 42%!!! This is just unbelievable. Those boards were so important because the shots were just not falling tonight like they usually are. So impressive to come away with a win.

    This has got to be a bigger indictment of OSU though. How can Ohio play such great defense and not box out?

    • TimgColo

      Definitely agree, with the athletes that Ohio St has, why they are such a poor rebounding team is puzzling. Although Williams definitely is not dialed in every possession and takes himself out of possession alot with the attempted shot blocks.

  • Chris De Sana

    Great write up………… wow was it nice to see so many things happen in this game that we had all been asking for over the two losses to Indiana and Iowa. It feels good to say that although I thought we lost the coaching war in those losses we certainly won it last night.

    Your glowing review of Walton is spot on…. his play of Craft was excellent and IMO his playing so far off of him helped lead to all those rebounds.

    Your points on both Nik and GR3 were also spot on, maybe the shots did not always go down but for the most part they were good ones. They came after a series of cuts and picks with a certain result in mind leading to a shot they usually knock down. Hopefully this action continues in future games.

    What’s not to like about Zak? He really has provided for a very nice scoring lift when GR3 has struggled.
    As for the Bigs, just a very solid performance. Do I get frustrated when JMo refuses to take a 7 foot wide open jumper early in the game heck yes. Do I get frustrated when he misses a bunny at the rim in the early moments of the game heck yes. But his understanding of the scouting report night in and night out is fantastic always forcing the opposing bigs to score outside of their comfort zone. Horford seems to be taking baby steps forward almost every game and should be rewarded with a few more touches in the paint when he is calling for the ball, even if it leads to the ball being kicked back out or passed to a cutter.

  • Ben Sheler

    Would Michigan be a 1 seed if they win the rest of their regular season games?

    • jturn14

      I don’t think we “control our own destiny,” if that’s what you mean. As of now, the B1G regular season champ probably would be #6 overall behind Cuse, Arizona, Florida, Wichita St., and Kansas… If 2 or more of those teams loses a couple games that they shouldn’t, UM or State getting a 1 seed might become a possibility.

  • Dr_ZC

    What I loved in this game, was Walton’s rebounding. I was wandering, if this was part of JB’s strategy to have the bigs boxing out and the guards to rebound, but I did not pay attention to this type of action during the game. Some of Walton’s boards, however, were “desire” boards, as he outhustled everybody, from guarding Craft to turning to the hoop for the board.

    He is definitely the X-factor, and he has a pair of big brass ones, for everybody on the team to take notice.

    • When guards are grabbing defensive boards for Michigan it’s definitely a sign that the bigs and wings are boxing out. Obviously still takes hustle to get there, but kudos goes to the bigs — not just DW.

  • Champswest

    Of all the great things that happened for UM in that game (as has been nicely pointed out), the thing that pleased me most was the ( I hope) emergence of Walton as the guy with the steel backbone. Zack, Trey and Tim all had it and Nik has it on the offensive end. That look the enemy in the eyes and say “Not today, not on my watch.”

    • Dr_ZC

      I remember Manny Harris and the game he had against OSU for the big 10 tournament. When he made his last shot that put UM ahead, he thumped his chest, and he had this look in his eye… That game was spoiled by Evan’s last shot. Walton did the same when he hit the 3 pointer to put UM up by 6. The look in his eye and his determination had “not here, not today” all over it. He will definitely be the next floor leader for UM. Fearless.

  • Richmond_Eric

    I love watching this Michigan basketball team! It is so much fun to see how they play and pull for each other. Let’s not forgot how young (again) our team is. Perhaps that is what makes it so much fun? and excruciating (at times)? Even the most seasoned pros have their ups and downs. While there may be more to come, I believe that this team will be poised to make some noise come tournament time. I cannot help but think ahead to playing top notch competition on neutral courts after winning on the road against Ohio St., Mich St., Wisc., Neb., Minn.

  • gobluemd16

    Great win. Not much more to say that hasn’t already been talked about below. But, to think that we won @ MSU, @ Wisconsin, and @ Ohio all in the same season is unbelievably impressive. This team is really awesome and you can tell they love playing with one another. Being able to figure out how to get Nik the ball when he was being denied by a small guard (Craft, last night) was huge, and will be hereforward. Absolutely love watching this team and can’t wait for the next two games after some much needed rest.

  • Chezaroo

    Great win. Loved the transition of the teams mind set from the first half to the second. They grabbed thT game by the throat and took it. No “stealing” a win on the road here, that win was damn well earned.

  • AADave

    Great win! The biggest story seems to be Walton’s emergence in the running the offense and flashing elite potential. But there are two other important stories in my mind. One is Stauskas’ ability to pick his spots and create offense against a defense focused on stopping him. Another is GR III’s improved aggressiveness again this game. Sure, he had a subpar outing and got rejected a couple times. But he was more aggressive and didn’t quit trying. If he continues to be aggressive and isn’t afraid to miss some shots, I think he’ll expand his game and eventually it will pay off.

    • Northern Blue

      If Stauskas leaves this year I think Walton will have the ball a ton in his hands. Like you said – elite potential – because he is so quick that it is almost impossible for any one man to stay in front of him. Has some major guts and leadership qualities as well.

  • ChathaM

    The box out has become a bit of a lost art at every level, but OSU took that to new heights tonight. As JeremyS said below, they simply did not box out. I was watching the game highlights on BTN, and not once did a OSU player even attempt to put a body on a UM player in any of the highlights shown. It was great to benefit from it, but as a basketball person, it was pretty sad to watch. Are they like that every game? If so, I can see why they don’t hold leads.

    I was very happy for Glenn when he made the 3 to put us up 7. I think he’s been unfairly criticized by many outlets lately, and it was nice to see him make a key play.

    Morgan and Horford continue to stay out of foul trouble, which is the most impressive thing about their games to me. I thought for sure that we’d have played a couple of games by now where Bielfeldt would have had to play significant minutes due to foul trouble. But, it hasn’t happened. Morgan, Horford, and the coaching staff deserve a ton of credit for that.

    • Sood

      This is a very good observation about boxing out. It almost feels like it’s gone out of fashion. I wonder why. One explanation might be that with so many teams shooting the long ball nowadays, rebounds tend to scatter more, making boxing out a moot point – or at least not worth the effort expended. Just a thought.

      • ChathaM

        I know that many coaches today teach their players to simply “T” their check (ie.- plant a forearm on them when the shot goes up), but not to use their body. You can see players do that in every game you watch. But, just as often, the “T” is very lazy, and the check easily shifts past the defender to get better rebounding position. Bottom line; we always see/hear coaches yelling “Box Out” from the sidelines, but we rarely see players actually do it.

        • Sood

          Oh, so that’s the new technique. Strange that it’s caught on given how ineffective it is.