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Posted on Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

No. 2 Ohio State hangs on to beat Michigan basketball, 68-64, at Crisler Arena

By Michael Rothstein


Michigan's Zack Novak (0) leads a fast break after stealing the ball from Ohio State's David Lighty (23) during first half of the Wolverine's 68-64 loss Wednesday night at Crisler Arena.

Lon Horwedel |

Updated 10:24 p.m.

Zack Novak stood in front of his locker — Michigan likes its players to address the media that way — and cringed.

He didn’t know how to explain what happened, didn’t want to think about how close Michigan had come, again, to knocking off a top 5 team in Crisler Arena.

After pushing No. 3 Kansas to overtime on Sunday it had one of its biggest rivals, undefeated and No. 2-ranked Ohio State, at home on Wednesday.

And Michigan came close, again, before losing to the Buckeyes, 68-64.

“We’re right there. We’re a good team,” Novak said. “Once we get it, we can beat anybody. Right now we can beat anybody.

“We’re right there. We just have got to learn from it.”

Learning, though, might be the hardest part. Michigan could see a poor shooting performance in a 67-60 loss to Kansas and rationalize if it had played better, it might have beaten the Jayhawks.

In this one, Michigan played well. So did Ohio State. And the Wolverines still hung close.

Michigan (11-6, 1-3 Big Ten) shot 52.2 percent from the field. The Wolverines' double-team defensive strategy held national Player of the Year candidate Jared Sullinger to 12 points and seven rebounds and forced the freshman forward to foul out for the first time in his career.

And, in the first half, they went with Ohio State (17-0, 4-0) every step, trailing by one, 35-34, at halftime. But a 12-0 run in the middle of the second half, when Michigan had three missed shots and four turnovers, put them in a 12-point hole, 53-41.

This team a year ago, heck, this team two months ago, might have folded against a team more talented than them.

Instead, they fought. They used a 5-0 run in the game’s final minutes to close within four, 62-58, and then made it a two-point game with 22 seconds left after Novak made two free throws.

“It’s right there,” redshirt freshman forward Jordan Morgan said. “We know we can play with anybody but we want to win. We want to win those two games, we could have used those two games.”

Instead, they have to settle with being close.

Most Michigan players admitted this felt a lot like Sunday’s game against Kansas. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It is good because Michigan is realizing its potential, that it can play — at least at home — with the nation’s elite.

It is bad because the difference is still there. And that playing close and being able to actually win these games is a vast difference.

A 6 minute, 12 second scoring drought like what happened in Ohio State’s 12-0 run cannot happen. Its forward, Morgan, cannot get into foul trouble as he did dealing with Sullinger, because while Michigan’s four other starters all scored in double figures -- led by 18 from Darius Morris -- Morgan didn’t score for the first time this season.

“We’re close but to get over the hump you’ve got to be better than the breaks, better than the other team. You have to stay so focused,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.

“You have to be better than any calls that don’t go your way and that’s a tougher thing to do than people think.

“We just have to keep stressing it and the process will take care of itself.”

The process, initially thought to be one that could take all of this season or longer, is starting to accelerate. Michigan’s players are starting to believe they can play with anyone. Beat anyone.

Kansas stung. But it was an out-of-conference game. So while Wednesday night felt the same, there was a little more bitterness.

A little more anger.

This was a Big Ten game. This was a rival. For the second straight time, Michigan came close to beating Ohio State, which got a game-high 19 points from guard William Buford.

“This one hurts a little bit more,” Morris said. “This is Ohio State and you can’t forget that. Great rivalry and you always want to be on the winning side of this one.

“Equally (like Kansas), but a little more tough because it’s Ohio State.”


Michael Rothstein covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

ANOTHER loss by one of the worst programs in the Big Ten. OSU was never in real danger of losing this game. At least "Denard got a big ovation"......lmao


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

Lost by single digits to teams currently ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the country. All games we could've won. These close losses could be wins w/ more experience.


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 10:25 a.m.

Nice, fans try showing up to the games! Then again we already new the outcome.

The Ben

Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 10:22 a.m.

Did anyone else notice that some of OSU's players looked like they were 35 years old?

Pete S.

Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 10:21 a.m.

I think this team has played especially well in the last two games after a very poor 2nd half against Wisconsin. JB has them ready to play and they are definitely showing signs of improvement from earlier in the season even though they are taking some tough L's. Morgan couldn't have been worse offensively last night with 0 points and a bunch of turnovers. He's been almost a non-factor in the last two games on O. With as many young players as this team has, I'll be interested to see how the rest of the year plays out. I'm encouraged about the future of this team.


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 9:39 a.m.

The team played well, I think Morris and Smotrycz are really starting to develop. they need to get over the hump and win some of these close games


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 9:20 a.m.

Another heroic effort and tough loss for Michigan. I love this team's tenacity. Just hope they catch a break soon in a big game. "Timeatwork" makes a great point. Attracting great players requires a certain atmosphere. Look at Kansas - a flat state that's often - unfairly - maligned for being flat and boring. Yet the school consistently draws winners. One key factor is the fans and the magical atmosphere they create in Allen Fieldhouse. I was at the KU-Michigan game, and I felt so bad for Michigan that so many KU fans were there. If I were a potential Michigan recruit at that game, I'd look around and really wonder if this was the place for me.


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 8:27 a.m.

does anyone find it embarrassing that you couldn't fill 13,000 seats to play the #2 team in the country??


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 7:01 a.m.

..#@%#&!!..its hard to win when you are playing 4 on 5.. a certain junior shooting guard needs to cut his hair and start playing basketball..running through the lane like its a practice drill is not going to get it..shying away from physical contact on dfense won't either....get a buzz cut, play with some confidence, find your jumper, and help your team WIN! if you are scared..sit down! Go Blue! v


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 6:59 a.m.

..#@%#&!!..its hard to win when you are playing 4 on 5.. a certain junior shooting guard needs to cut his hair and start playing basketball..running through the lane like its a practice drill is not going to get it..shying away from physical contact on dfense won't either....get a buzz cut, play with some confidence, find your jumper, and help your team WIN! if you are scared..sit down! Go Blue! v


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

The main difference between Beilein and Rich Rod is that Beilein fields a competitive team and made the tournament in his second year. I wouldn't say this is a great team, but they are a solid team. They give great effort and they are in every game. I doubt many teams that play Kansas and OSU back to back will win either game. I bet if you looked at what MSU has done this season, they have yet to beat any of the top teams they played out of conference.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

While some are accused of drinking Koo-laid. It appears most on these post drink grapefruit juice.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Hang on to this story nd yu cn use it over and over till Brandon decides to get rid of John B. He has no clue how to recruit to play in the big ten. Kind of like another coach I slightly remember.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Another great effort only to come up short. OSU has too many weapons so take Sulliger away and tonight it was Buford. The future looks brighter than I thought but NCAA may be still a pipedream this year. You have to win at home in Big Ten.