TONY DING / AP Enlarge
TONY DING / AP Enlarge
ANN ARBOR - What was supposed to be a busy and happy night at home for Michigan was ruined by a familiar and unwelcome foe.
With a celebration of the Wolverines' 1989 "Shock the World" national championship team planned and UM coach John Beilein looking for his 500th NCAA victory, Ohio State put a damper on all of that with a gritty 65-58 win.
Evan Turner led the Buckeyes with 19 points and eight rebounds. Libbey graduate William Buford and OSU reserve B.J. Mullens had 15 points each.
UM, wearing throwback blue uniforms from 20 years ago to commemorate the school's title team, overcame an 11-point deficit in the first half and led 44-40 with 8:13 left in the game.
From that point the Buckeyes (13-3, 3-2) went on a 17-3 run over the next seven minutes that included a 3-point play and layup from Buford. Turner also was key in OSU's rally and scored 13 of his points in the second half.
Manny Harris had 21 points to lead the Wolverines (13-5, 3-3), who have now lost two straight Big Ten games. Stu Douglass came off the bench to score 12 points, and DeShawn Sims added 10 points.
OSU outshot its rival 54.5 percent to 35.7 percent and forced the opposition into 10-of-29 shooting from 3-point range.
UM was down just 29-25 at halftime despite shooting 27 percent (7-of-26) from the field. The Buckeyes shot 54 percent (13-of-24) and were having an easy time throwing lob passes over the heads of the Wolverines' smaller defenders in the 1-3-1 defense, but their momentum stalled after stretching its lead to 27-16 with 4:11 left.
After surrendering a 3-pointer to open the second half, UM responded with a 9-0 run to take a 34-32 lead with 13:38 to go. Harris scored the Wolverines' first seven points of the half on a 3-pointer, a jumper, and a steal and dunk.
The two teams will meet again in Columbus on Jan. 28.
UM honored its lone national champion basketball team at halftime with a video tribute and by introducing the players and staff. As expected, the sold-out crowd serenaded the Wolverines' returning heroes with boisterous cheers and a standing ovation.
Before the game, Rumeal Robinson, who hit two free throws late to clinch the '89 Wolverines' 80-79 national championship victory over Seton Hall, said it doesn't feel like it's been 20 years since he made those shots.
Robinson said the two free throws didn't change his life all that much.
"What changed my life was having the opportunity to play here at Michigan," Robinson said.
Most, but not all, of the players from that UM team were at Crisler Arena yesterday. Absent, though, were the Wolverines' two head coaches in 1988-89 - Bill Frieder and Steve Fisher.
Frieder, who was the team's coach for most of the year but was fired by Bo Schembechler after he accepted a job at Arizona State with the hope of coaching UM through the NCAA Tournament, was not invited for yesterday's reunion according to the Ann Arbor News.
Fisher, Frieder's replacement, was invited but did not attend.
Glen Rice, whose magical shooting touch carried the Wolverines through the tournament, said the memory of the team coming together after losing Frieder will endure another 20 years.
"We were able to come together under the adversity of losing a coach, and [we went] out there and played together and fought for one another," Rice said.
"The team's legacy is etched in stone," said Sean Higgins, who like Robinson and Rice was one of nine players to play in the pros from the '89 squad. "It's a major accomplishment. It's something everyone strives for in college basketball, in college sports - a national title."
FOOTBALL NOTE: UM football coach Rich Rodriguez said yesterday that he has made progress in his search for a defensive coordinator and will announce a hire before signing day, which is Feb. 4.
Rodriguez is looking to replace Scott Shafer, who resigned as the Wolverines' defensive coordinator last month.
Contact Joe Vardon at:
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