Michigan 74, Ohio State 62

Submitted by BiSB on February 18th, 2018 at 4:38 PM

December was a long time ago.

When Michigan played Ohio State on December 4, everyone expected Ohio State to be a mediocre-at-best Big Ten team. The Buckeyes’ were coming off a 17-15 season and a disastrous offseason, and hadn’t shown anything particularly noteworthy in the early non-conference season. So when Michigan built, and subsequently blew, a 20-point in Columbus, it looked to be a terrible loss and the sign of a team that might struggle to make the NCAA tournament.  Now, ten weeks later, a home win over that same team being (rightly) seen as a massive résumé win.

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Moe goes up, Moe goes down (Campredon)

Ohio State’s turnaround has been keyed by Big Ten Player-of-the-Year frontrunner Keita Bates-Diop, and Michigan’s resurgence has been led by its defense. On this day, the defense won the battle. Bates-Diop finished with 17 points, but he required 17 shots to get there, and turned the ball over 4 times in the process. Overall, the Wolverines forced 14 turnovers, largely the result of excellent perimeter defense that resulted in numerous transition opportunities. Ohio State’s offensive success was largely predicated on offensive rebounding, as the Buckeyes grabbed 15 offensive boards.

Offensively, Michigan was sluggish out of the gate, trailing 14-10 midway through the first half. That was when Jordan Poole did Jordan Poole things. Michigan went on a 12-4 run, nine of which were Poole’s, including a four-point play. Michigan never relinquished the lead. Poole finished with 15 points on 5-8 shooting, including 4-5 from deep. He was the only Wolverine who shot well from outside (the rest of the team was 3-15 from three), and equally importantly, he provided a notable boost of energy.

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Sir, is your microwave running? Well then you’d better try to catch it (Campredon)

The other palpable source of energy was Moritz Wagner. Wagner scored an efficient 12 points, but also spent a large portion of the afternoon scrambling for loose balls and generally being an hyperactive pest. He also benefited from a (generally) laissez-faire approach from the officials, which allowed him to stay on the court despite being involved in some very physical encounters.

In other positive performances, Jaaron Simmons played extended minutes for the third consecutive game, including a solid stretch along side Jordan Poole during Poole’s first half explosion. The highlight of his first half was a pretty feed to Wagner in the post for an easy. It seems pretty clear at this point that he has supplanted Eli Brooks. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson combined for 20 points in the second half.  On the downside, Charles Matthews continued to struggle. He was abused by JaeSean Tate (though Michigan struggled to defend him down low all game), and he was held to six points on six shots while turning the ball over four times. However, he did have a couple of nice takes to the bucket in the second half, and he generally stayed within the flow of the offense.

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Adieu, gentlemen (Campredon)

This was Senior Day, and Michigan said farewell to three active players; Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson, and Jaaron Simmons all played significant minutes in this one, and generally played well. But the star of the festivities was Austin Hatch.  Hatch, who wasn’t allowed to play because of NCAA rules (he took a medical redshirt a couple of years ago) was announced as a starter, and warmed up with the team. Crisler’s greeting was reminiscent of that Brock Mealer when the Michigan football team opened the season against UConn in 2010.

For the second year in a row, a former Michigan grad transfer played Michigan's Senior Night an a different color jersey. But unlike Spike Albrecht, who received a relatively warm reception, Andrew Dakich was booed every time he touched the ball. Such is the nature of rivalry. Dakich finished with 0 points, 0 assists, and a turnover in 22 minutes.

This win removes what little doubt remained about Michigan’s tournament status. They still have a chance to play their way out of a second-round matchup with a 1- or 2-seed, though Michigan has recently been projected anywhere from a 3-seed to a “launched-by-trebuchet-into-the-sun,” so your guess is as good as mine. For the moment, we will have to be satisfied with a hearty round of “NOT LIKE FOOTBALL <clap> <clap> <clap clap clap>.”

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

Comments

CLion

February 18th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

My favorite play of the game was in the first half the possession after Poole had hit a 3 and was jawing with Dakich on defense. He nearly broke his ankles before missing a contested lay up where they didn't call the foul. Poole's first step is Westbrook like. I cannot wait to see what he develops into.

rc15

February 18th, 2018 at 4:51 PM ^

Can’t wait to see him after a summer of Camp Sanderson. If he adds some strength his game will be deadly being able to make circus shots and finish hard at the rim.

SHub'68

February 18th, 2018 at 11:37 PM ^

Agree with you.  There were a couple in there that I'd like'd to have seen him try to dunk.  He still may not have made them, but I think he could have gone to the free throw line instead of getting blocked.

This seems to be a little bit of a theme for this team - they get turned away going to the basket quite a bit, or at least the layup rolls off the rim more than you'd like to see.  Perhaps it's something a few extra pounds of muscle could help to improve.

jmblue

February 18th, 2018 at 4:51 PM ^

I wouldn't go so far as to say Wagner got a favorable whistle (he got away with contact on a few plays but then was called for 2-3 phantoms) but all things considered, the officiating wasn't a big factor despite its inconsistency, so I'll take that.

 

Chaz_Smash

February 18th, 2018 at 4:53 PM ^

Is it just me, or did Jae'Sean Tate spend every minute of this game either shoving somebody or shuffling his pivot foot in the post? None of these violations was called, yet Michigan got several fouls for striking his outstretched palm with their chest. That 3-point opportunity late in the game was abusurd -- laid it in with one hand, shoved Wagner in the chest with his off hand, and got rewarded with a foul call. Why does Gene Steratore love him so?

LS And Play

February 18th, 2018 at 5:02 PM ^

So fun to watch. To spin off a Harbaugh phrase, this is an ascending program. The team is peaking right now and the next two years look so bright.

Zavier Simpson was excellent today on defense, as usual. His perimeter pressure gave us so many opportunities on the other end. Also, good to see Simpson try out a new free throw routine. I think it's all between the ears for him, so its was great for him to make 4/6 using the new routine. From what I recall 5 of the 6 looked solid. It would be huge (both from an offensive and defensive standpoint) if he can be out there in the last few minutes when we have 5-8 point leads. 

Mannix

February 18th, 2018 at 5:02 PM ^

OSU has gotten away w using Dakich a lot and today it burned him. Poole abused him on O and so did Z on D. OSU played 4 on 5 when he was out there today and that was just fine.

JB has done it this year with D. Great adaptation and kudos to the staff for their contributions and for JB giving them autonomy.

TrueBlue2003

February 19th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

defensive games I can remember for a guy that didn't record a single steal or block.

Live he looked great and I went back and rewatched and this is what he did:

While guarding KBD:

0-4 FGs, 2 forced TOs, 2 shooting fouls (of which KBD went 2-4 FTs). That's it.  The only basket KBD made while Livers was on the floor was on a fast break put-back of a Dakich missed layup that Livers tried to block (possibly should have just boxed out).

He also didn't let anyone that he got switched onto score (unless you count the help attempt on Tate on which he got the blocking foul for the And1 but wasn't his fault Tate had beaten someone else and he made a good effort to get there) or create an opportunity for a teammate.  That ability to guard 1-4 is why he's so valuable:

While guarding Tate: 1 forced missed layup, 1 funnel into Wagner for a steal, the blocking foul on the and1.

While guarding Williams: 1 forced missed layup

By my count, he also didn't give up a single OREB unless you fault him for going for the block on Dakich's layup attempt instead of boxing out KBD/waiting for a miss.

He did all the little things like deflecting a pass to KBD early in the game after he had to help onto Dakich and that prevented a wide open three and allowed the defense to reset. He is surprisingly good moving his feet to stay in front of guys on the drive and because of that, he can play right up on guys at the three point line.

Holding the conference POY to 2 points on 8 used possessions is how you go +6 in 16 minutes despite not scoring a point (and despite not playing many minutes with Poole who was outstanding).

Da Fino

February 18th, 2018 at 5:05 PM ^

....chant gives too much recognition to Ohio.  Let's put that one in the closet and lock the door, ok?

On the other hand, great win!  Gotta be excited to see what this team can achieve in March and in the years to come.  Go Blue!

J.

February 18th, 2018 at 6:09 PM ^

Or when winning.  It's poor sportsmanship, and it diminshes Michigan too.  (Michigan's winning becuase the opponent is bad?  How about, Michigan is winning because Michigan is good?)  It actually bothers me even more than "over-rated <clap, clap, clap-clap-clap>," since it's basically the same concept but adds elementary-school vulgarity.

jsquigg

February 18th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

I have always loved MAAR's game.  He has a quiet toughness about him.  He plays unfazed in spite of the physical limitations.  He and Jordan Morgan are two of my favorite guys to ever suit up for Michigan.  They both have/had limitations that put a ceiling on a pro career, but they are both aware of their strengths and weaknesses on the court.  J-Mo on the offensive end was the perfect center for a Beilein offense with the exception being he couldn't shoot 3s.

Bill22

February 19th, 2018 at 12:10 AM ^

Jordan Morgan was great his final year, but was pretty weak in all aspects of his game prior to that season IMO. I thought he was very Donnal without the 3 pt shot before he became Captain in ‘13/‘14. MAAR, OTOH has been a solid contributor his whole career and did not necessarily “break out” now that he stepped up and into a leaderships role.

jmblue

February 19th, 2018 at 12:33 AM ^

A lot of people seem to have this idea that Morgan was a late bloomer.  He was a four-year starter and was always decent - he was the starting center on a Big Ten championship team as a sophomore and went toe-to-toe with guys like Sullinger.  His best offensive year was his actually his freshman season.  

However, fans didn't seem to really appreciate him until he was a senior, when he started on another Big Ten title team while McGary was out.