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Bielfeldt provides pull in crucial UM victory

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Michigan's Max Bielfeldt (44) pulls down an offensive rebound near Ohio State's Marc Loving in the second half.

Ann Arbor — During a season of ups and downs for Michigan, one of the biggest surprises has been senior center Max Bielfeldt. Although he hasn't had a lot of playing time in his career, Bielfeldt has made the most of his opportunities this season, becoming a spark plug off the bench as freshmen Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle have learned the ropes.

In Sunday's win over No. 24 Ohio State, Bielfeldt had seven points and seven rebounds, but had a critical stretch in the final two minutes, when he had a pair of offensive rebounds and dove for a loose ball, helping UM (14-13, 7-8 Big Ten) get extra possessions and run out the clock.

"One of the things I pride myself is getting those 50-50 balls. Those really are the momentum changers," Bielfeldt said. "You have those plays that are up in the air and if you can get those, that changes the momentum of the game — and that's how we got this one."

Bielfeldt led the charge, along with veterans Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin, who combined for 31 points, nine assists and zero turnovers. That trio carried the Wolverines down the stretch, and may have kept the dwindling hopes of a postseason spot alive.

Coach John Beilein cited Bielfeldt's veteran savvy and effort in going after the ball as one of the keys to the win.

"It comes with understanding our young guys are learning about a sense of urgency. Max's clock is running out — he wants to go and get that ball, where typical young guys are saying, 'I'll get it next time.'" Beilein said. "Max is realizing there's not a next time and I'm going to get that ball. The will of our guys was terrific. Those were key plays in that game."

Bielfeldt played 17 minutes but that critical juncture helped Michigan get over the hump and get its first win since Jan. 27. The Crisler crowd was amped and it had the atmosphere similar to the College GameDay experience against Wisconsin.

"I would compare it to the Syracuse game (home) and Wisconsin was very charged up like this," Beilein said. "For our guys to have success on it is huge. I feel a little bit like Syracuse was a pretty good NCAA team and that was a quality win for us."

Dakich's sacrifice

Walk-on Andrew Dakich burned his redshirt so that he could help the short-handed Wolverines this season but hadn't scored this season.

His 3-pointer with 6:36 left in the first half gave UM its largest lead, 31-11, but also gave Beilein something to kid Dakich about going forward. On the ensuing possession, Ohio State got a 3-pointer after Dakich celebrated.

"I'm going to give him the business because he made a 3, but we gave up a 3 at the other end," Beilein said. "There were two or three steps of celebration and maybe relief that we'll attribute it to that. We'll never forget that moment that he celebrated the first 3 he's made."

No resume reflection

Ohio State coach Thad Matta said he didn't think his team was looking past Michigan, which is teetering on the verge of missing even the NIT Tournament. But he wasn't happy about the early effort in the first half and the big deficit that they got in.

Asked about whether he himself thought about the Buckeyes' NCAA resume, he pushed aside the notion.

"We have to get this team better. We have to learn from this loss," Matta said. "Thinking about that stuff doesn't do a damn thing for you; you have to put it into action."

Title teams honored

Michigan honored its Big Ten-championship teams from 1965 and 1985 during media timeouts in the first half.

Among those present were Antoine Joubert and Butch Wade from the '85 team.