ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Trevor Thompson and Ohio State found a Michigan weakness and exploited it.
Thompson had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and the Buckeyes overwhelmed the Wolverines around the basket in a 70-66 upset Saturday night. Ohio State outrebounded Michigan 42-24, and Thompson had six of the Buckeyes’ 16 offensive rebounds.
“We were shooting so poorly, there were a lot of opportunities,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta cracked.
The Buckeyes (14-10, 4-7 Big Ten) shot only 40 percent from the field and 4 of 19 from 3-point range, but Ohio State won anyway. Marc Loving scored 17 points, and Jae’Sean Tate added 13.
Derrick Walton Jr. scored 25 points for the Wolverines (14-9, 4-6).
Michigan led by 11 in the first half but Ohio State easily erased that deficit by dominating the glass. The Buckeyes had 10 of their offensive rebounds in the first half and led 36-35 at halftime.
“Sometimes, it was about the bounce of the ball,” Walton said. “Sometimes, it was just those guys keeping the ball alive with just great effort. I wouldn’t say our effort wasn’t there. I would just say that maybe their effort was a little bit more at times.”
Michigan has lost two in a row since beating Indiana by 30 on Jan. 26. The Wolverines haven’t won a true road game all season, so letting a winnable home game slip away was alarming.
Ohio State led 65-63 in the final minute when Walton missed a driving shot and then missed a tip-in attempt. JaQuan Lyle made two free throws for the Buckeyes to push the lead to four.
Walton’s 3-pointer cut it to one with 26.9 seconds remaining, and Lyle made only one of two free throws. Down two, Walton tried a tough fadeaway from the baseline that missed, and the Buckeyes held on.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have won at least 10 conference games in each of the past 11 regular seasons. That streak is in serious jeopardy, but they can take plenty of satisfaction in handing Michigan a loss that could seriously damage the Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
Michigan: 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.
Michigan took a 19-8 lead, but it soon became apparent that the Wolverines were going to have trouble taking the ball to the basket. Michigan went 13 of 35 from 3-point range and tried only 16 shots from inside the arc.
“We played through adversity,” Loving said. “They came out with a fantastic punch in the first couple minutes, but we were able to recover. It’s not going to be perfect, but I’m happy we competed for the whole 40 minutes.”
Not only did Michigan have a hard time on the boards, the Wolverines also had difficulty keeping their big men on the court. Moe Wagner played only 22 minutes and fouled out with only five points. D.J. Wilson and Mark Donnal finished with three fouls each — Wilson played only 25 minutes.
Ohio State shot 24 of 28 on free throws. Michigan’s fouls made the job of keeping the Buckeyes off the glass even harder.
“We put them on the foul line 28 times,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “If they make 16 of those, we win, but they’re a good foul-shooting team.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Rutgers on Wednesday night.
Michigan: The Wolverines host rival Michigan State on Tuesday night. Michigan lost to the Spartans 70-62 last weekend.