(Photo courtesy the lantern.com. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, Associated Press)

What a pleasure it was to type that headline…

Ohio State (14-10, 5-6) was much more energetic and aggressive for longer stretches of time than in their past games. More importantly, they played this way against Michigan (14-9, 4-6) in defeating the Wolverines, 70-66.

In JC’s preview he felt that Ohio State needed to keep an eye on the play of UM’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkmam. In addition to his 12 points, he also contributed 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

This game was a treat to watch.  Aside from Ohio State’s poor field goal shooting (40%), there was a lot to like about this team’s performance. They rebounded well, hey played solid defense and were deadly from the free throw line. The Buckeye defense held the Wolverines to a low 37% from the field, so the defense helped the offense out quite a bit on Saturday.

Michigan had 51 FG attempts, 35 of them (67%) of them from 3-point range. Since the Wolverines shot about the same (37%) from either side of the arc, Beilein’s Boys went with shooting from long range to get the “extra” point per made shot.

The problem with being a 3-point shooting team is that your offensive set quite often is “4 out – 1 in” where 4 players position themselves on/about the three point line and the fifth player is somewhere in the vicinity on the lane. However, this tends to compromise your ability to rebound; Ohio State out-rebounded UM 42-24; having 16 offensive rebounds to UM’s 7.

Noah Trister of the Associated Press had an interesting take on this:

The Wolverines have fought a reputation as a finesse team that can be soft on defense and around the basket. Saturday’s game did them no favors. In a game Michigan was favored to win — against an opponent that didn’t shoot all that well — the Wolverines lost because they were outworked on the boards and couldn’t handle Ohio State’s size and athleticism.

The Buckeyes had three players score in double figures;  Jae’Sean Tate (13), Marc Loving (17 points) and Trevor Thompson (13). Trevor accomplished another double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds, 6 of them offensive.

The Wolverines also had three players in double figures; Derrick Walton, Jr (22 points), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkmam (12 points) and DJ Wilson (11). Walton also accomplished a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Thoughts and opinions…

  • The Buckeyes started slowly, very slowly. Two minutes into the game they were 0-1 and two turnovers in their three possessions. The Wolverines were 3-4 in their 4 possessions and led 7-0. Uh-oh.
  • However, OSU kept chip-chip-chipping away at Michigan’s lead until they took the lead 35-34 with :37 in the half. A lead they would never relinquish.
  • Getting back to the benefits of rebounding for a moment: Ohio State outscored Michigan 19-4 in 2nd chance points. Thad can use this as a shining example of the benefits of additional possessions, particularly on a night when the shooting was off the mark.
  • Speaking of off the mark shooting, despite leading the team in scoring, Marc Loving had a poor game shooting; 4-12. Fortunately, he did enough other things well (6-6 free throws, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) to have an overall good game. is 2 FTs at the :15 mark pushed OSU’s lead to 4 points and, in effect, lock up the win.
  • For long portions of the second half, Ohio State’s margin floated around the two possession range. The Wolverines punched and the Buckeyes counter-punched. In addition to OSU’s sustained high-energy, they showed mental toughness for the last twenty minutes.
  • Micah Potter had a good game, scoring 7 points in 11 minutes. CJ Jackson (28 minutes, 8 points, 8 rebounds) played well starting in place of injured -ankle- JaQuan Lyle (23 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers). In 16 minutes, Andre Wesson (3 points, 5 rebounds) also had a good game. Thad should be a bit more comfortable.

This was another “good effort” game by the Buckeyes. They seem to be getting the hang of it. This postseason looks bleak, but the fact they are showing signs of improvement and fundamentally better play, is a good sign.

Up Next

The Buckeyes return to Value City Arena to host Rutgers (13-11, 2-9) on Wednesday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. The game can be seen on BTN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.