ANN ARBOR - Now we know what the Ohio State Buckeyes are capable of when they fall behind big on the road against a ranked team and their top inside scoring threat is a non-factor early.
The No. 19 Buckeyes wiped the first few minutes of last night's basketball game at No. 22 Michigan from their memory banks. And they created new memories with an impressive outside shooting display that resulted in a 94-85 win over the Wolverines at Crisler Arena.
It was a big victory for OSU coach Thad Matta in what was the first game played between the Buckeyes and Wolverines when both were ranked in the Top 25 since 1992. The win improves the Buckeyes to 17-3 and 6-3 in the Big Ten.
The only knock Matta could put on his players was that they were a little late out of the starting gate. Michigan jumped out to a 13-4 lead and was ahead 21-8 when Matta called timeout, a move that completely changed the game's momentum.
"The gist of the timeout was, 'Do what we do best and don't panic,'●" Matta said.
Coming out of the huddle, the Buckeyes rained 3-pointers on Michigan, sinking 11 of their remaining 14 first-half 3-pointers and taking a 49-43 halftime advantage.
OSU executed perfectly against Michigan's zone defense. The Buckeyes didn't force any long 3-pointers. Everything came in the rhythm of the
"They were good shots. A couple of them were pretty deep," Matta said. "We were struggling down low in the first half, so it opened things up for the rest of the game."
The Buckeyes drilled 12-of-16 3-pointers in the first half and 15-of-24 overall. The Buckeyes converted a staggering 70.4 percent of all their field goals in the second half and shot 61 percent for the game.
"We gave them too many open looks," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "Our
effort was good, we just didn't get there in time."
The best thing about the Buckeyes' 3-point aggressiveness was that it didn't interfere with running their offense.
Senior Terence Dials, who was 0-for-6 and scored a single point in the first half, continued getting his touches and shots down low. He was a perfect 4-of-4 in the second half and finished with nine points.
Guard Je'kel Foster set the tone for the Buckeyes. Foster drilled all four of his 3-pointers for 12 points, dished out two assists and recorded a steal in the opening half.
His terrific play made things easier for the rest of the Buckeyes. He ignited an attack that featured three other players in double figures in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, Ohio State's superior depth and poise dominated.
Former Bowling Green guard Ron Lewis, a transfer in his first season with the Buckeyes, carried the offense for a stretch in the second half. Lewis, who shot an efficient 5-of-7 from the field, scored 11 of his 14 points after halftime.
"We're just a good team. We play together," Lewis said. "Everybody has confidence in everybody to make a shot or play defense or whatever it takes to get a win. Coach instills that in us every day to stay together as a team."
Michigan received a great performance from junior forward Courtney Sims, who led all players with 26 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Wolverines (16-5, 6-4) lost by nine points on their homecourt despite five players reaching double figures.
An ankle injury to guard Dion Harris hurt Michigan's comeback chances late in the contest. Ohio State forced the Wolverines into key turnovers in stretching a 76-75 lead out of reach.
Last night's win gives the Buckeyes something to crow about until the teams meet again Feb. 25 in Columbus.