Ohio State blows out Michigan basketball team, 77-55, in Big Ten Tournament semifinal
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- Less than a week ago, the Michigan basketball team earned its first share of a Big Ten regular season championship in nearly three decades.
The Wolverines will have to wait another year for a shot at an outright title, though.
Ohio State got 24 points from Jared Sullinger and blasted the Wolverines from start to finish Saturday, handing Michigan its most lopsided defeat of the season, 77-55, in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
"Today was very embarrassing for us," Michigan sophomore wing Tim Hardaway Jr. said. "It stings a lot.
"But (Sunday) we start off with 68 teams, 0-0. We'll be ready to go."
The loss bounces second-seeded Michigan (24-9) from the tournament, and advances No. 3 Ohio State (27-6) into the championship game against Michigan State on Sunday (3:30 p.m., CBS). The Spartans beat Wisconsin, 65-52, in Saturday's other semifinal.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, will await their fate for the NCAA Tournament, which will be revealed Sunday during a live selection show on CBS, beginning at 6 p.m.
Prior to the Ohio State loss, Michigan was projected as a No. 3 seed by both CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm and ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi.
Michigan improved to 5-0 in Big Ten Tournament openers under John Beilein after holding off Minnesota in overtime Friday. But after losing to OSU on Saturday, the Wolverines are 0-5 under Beilein in second-game appearances.
The Wolverines haven't been to the tournament's title game since the inaugural event in 1998, and have been eliminated by Ohio State in each of the past three seasons.
"This (Ohio State team) reminds me of the best UConn teams, the best Syracuse teams, the best Kentucky teams, the best Florida teams. This is a heck of a team," Beilein said. "But there's always something we can learn from."
After getting a combined 50 points from Trey Burke and Hardaway on Friday, the Wolverines got markedly less from their high-scoring duo against the Buckeyes.
Burke didn't get his first field goal until the 6:55 mark of the second half and finished with just five points on 1-of-11 shooting and committed a season-high eight turnovers. Hardaway, meanwhile, went 3-for-10 from the floor for 13 points.
As a team, Michigan made a season-worst 17 of 55 (30.9 percent) shots. The Wolverines' previous low was a 33.3-percent performance during a home win over Northwestern in January. Michigan also went 4-for-25 from 3-point range.
"We came out flat, just like (vs. Minnesota Friday) and Ohio State is a team you can't do that against," Burke said. "We're concerned about our effort, but one thing I know about this team, we'll bounce back three times harder come next Thursday, or whenever we play.
"We haven't lost two times (in a row) all year, and I know we're going to come out with another mentality. ... Our biggest goal is to win the national championship, and this team, I know we're capable of doing it."
Not only did Michigan have no answer for Sullinger early on, but the Wolverines also had no answer for their own shooting woes.
The Wolverines began the game 1-for-11 from the floor and the Buckeyes took advantage, going up 16-3 after a DeShaun Thomas layup less than eight minutes into the game.
Michigan eventually drew as close as seven points after a pair of foul shots from Stu Douglass, but the wheels only continued to rattle from there.
Sullinger knocked in a leaner in the lane, scored a tip-in at the hoop and William Buford canned an open 3-pointer to polish off a 10-2 run, giving OSU its largest lead of 26-12.
The lead grew as large as 16 points minutes later before the Buckeyes eventually settled for a 34-21 edge at the half.
"They buried us early, we missed a couple easy ones, we didn't shoot the ball as well as we can," Beilein said. "We needed to be in there early, and they're a tough team to come back on."
Michigan closed the first half shooting 7-for-25 from the floor, 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Sullinger, meanwhile, went 8-for-10 for 16 points.
The second half wasn't any prettier for the Wolverines. OSU began the frame on a 10-3 run, pushing its lead to 20 after an Aaron Craft triple made it 44-24 with 16:03 left to play.
The lead grew as high as 28 points in the closing minutes, and was only trimmed down due to a late surge from the Michigan reserves in the final minutes, led by Corey Person's seven points.
Thomas finished with 22 points for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes shot 49.2 percent from the floor.
Zack Novak was the only other Michigan player in double figures, finishing with 10 points.
The prevailing sentiment from inside the Michigan locker room afterward was one of bitter disappointment, with a tinge of guarded optimism. The Wolverines suffered their most humbling defeat of the season on the eve of the NCAA Tournament, but, the team has yet to suffer a two-game losing skid next season.
That streak will have to hold up now, or else Michigan's season will be over.
"We're in it to win it," Novak said. "In the past years, we were in it to win a few games. We weren't happy with where we were, but we had exceeded expectations.
"This year, we're looking at this thing, with the team we've got, and we've got a legit chance to make a move in this tournament."
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