In their last game No. 16 Ohio State (15-6, 8-4) suffered a heartbreaking defeat when they gave up a lead late in the game at Rutgers and ended up with a 66-64 loss when it looked like they had that game firmly in hand.
The Buckeyes didn’t have an easy assignment to find their way back to their winning ways. Michigan (13-10, 7-6) has struggled and disappointed this season, but absolutely demolished No. 2 Purdue 82-58 in their last game. The win was so impressive that OSU was installed as an underdog in this game in Ann Arbor, partly because of the home court advantage, and partly because after that Purdue game it looked for the world like Michigan was back.
It turned out that it was the Buckeyes who were back, not the Wolverines.
The game was close for most of the first half but OSU closed the half with a 5-2 mini spurt to end the half with a three point lead at 33-30. It was a lead the Buckeyes would not surrender the rest of the game. Michigan cut the lead to just one with the first basket of the second half, but OSU scored six-straight to take a seven point lead. The closest the Wolverines could get the rest of the way was five on five separate occasions, but every time it looked like the Wolverines had a run in them the Buckeyes found an answer to stretch the lead back out again. OSU lead by as many as 14 as the game concluded, but a late Michigan three cut the final margin to 11.
OSU shot 50% from the field and made 16 of 18 free throws (88.9%). The Wolverines shot just 41.4% from the field and converted on just five of six free throws. Michigan made 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. OSU made 4 of 11.
E.J. Liddell scored a game-high 28 points on 8-17 shooting from the field and was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line. Little used guard Cedric Russell was the only other Buckeye to score in double figures with 12. Russell got extended minutes against Michigan when regular starting guard Meechie Johnson was unavailable to play. Johnson was replaced in the starting lineup by Eugene Brown and Russell became the next guard off the bench. He responded with a five for eight shooting night that included two for two from three in 24 minutes of play.
Photo of Cedric Russell courtesy Ohiostatebuckeyes.com