Michigan coach talks about his team's poor second half in Monday's 71-62 loss. James Hawkins
Columbus, Ohio — History didn’t favor Michigan.
The last 12 visits to Columbus led to 11 bitter trips back north for the Wolverines.
Monday night was just another painful chapter as Michigan blew a 20-point first-half lead and crumbled in the second half to fall to Ohio State, 71-62, at the Value City Center.
Moritz Wagner had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson each scored 11 for Michigan (7-3, 1-1), which shot 5-for-29 in the woeful second half and was outscored 15-2 over the final four and a half minutes.
Keita Bates-Diop scored 18, C.J. Jackson 17 and Jae’Sean Tate 14 for Ohio State (7-3, 2-0), which has won four of the past five meetings between the teams.
“As good as we were in the first 18 minutes of the first half, I think we were equally as bad in the second half,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “We couldn't make a basket or we couldn't make a really bright play during that time. Somehow we did a lot again in what we did in the North Carolina game and the LSU game. When things got a little tough, we really had trouble stepping up.”
After Michigan dominated and put on a clinic much of the first 20 minutes of the game, it looked like the Wolverines were going to run away with a convincing victory until Ohio State used a 16-0 run that started at the end of the first half and carried into the second half to wipe out the deficit.
The Buckeyes started chipping away by scoring seven straight points in the final 1:16 before halftime and came out firing following the break, scoring the first nine points to cut it to 43-39 with 16:23 to play.
“We came out with a lack of focus and weren't locked in,” Simpson said. “Collectively as a unit we didn't have energy, didn't come together and that's what it boiled down to. We didn't play harder than them.”
Eli Brooks temporarily stopped the bleeding with a corner 3-pointer but it wasn’t enough to keep Ohio State at bay as Michigan missed its next eight shot attempts.
The Buckeyes took advantage and rattled off 10 straight points with two layups from Tate and four straight points by Bates-Diop to grab a 49-46 lead with 11:41 remaining.
Michigan was able to temporarily overcome its shooting woes with a string of stops and a 9-0 run on a three-point play by Jordan Poole and two free throws apiece from Simpson, Abdur-Rahkman and Wagner to reclaim a 60-56 edge at the 4:54 mark.
But the shooting spell eventually caught up with Michigan and it couldn’t hold on. The Wolverines missed 10 of their final 11 shots and the Buckeyes scored 11 straight points over the final four minutes to take control, 67-60, with 31 seconds remaining.
Charles Matthews made Michigan’s lone field goal over the final seven minutes on a dunk with 16 seconds left before Ohio State sealed the deflating road loss with four free throws in the final 15 seconds.
"It was just a lack of focus and sense of urgency coming out of the half,” Robinson said. “I mean, we had them where we wanted them, or at least we thought. Those first four minutes are crucial. They made plays and played with energy and toughness, and we didn't.”
It was a completely different story in the first half for Michigan. The Wolverines set the tone from tip-off by spacing out Ohio State and grabbing a 14-6 lead at the 13:56 mark behind five points from Brooks on a layup in transition and a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound, an Abdur-Rahkman 3-pointer and a scooping layup by Simpson.
Ohio State’s defense continued to offer little resistance as Michigan went on a stretch where it scored on 10 of 12 possessions to take command and start pulling away.
The span started with nine straight points by the Wolverines on a Poole layup, Robinson 3-pointer, Wagner dunk and two Abdur-Rahkman free throws to make it 36-17 at the 4:05 mark.
After consecutive 3-pointers by Ohio State cut the margin down to 13, Michigan used another 7-0 blitz on layups by Wagner and Abdur-Rahkman and a 3-pointer by Wagner to extend the lead to 43-23 with 1:31 left in the half.
But the Buckeyes didn’t buckle and scored the final seven points of the half, which included an unconventional five-point play on a made 3-pointer and a foul away from the basket with Ohio State in the bonus, to shift the momentum and pull within 43-30 at the break.
“We just got to play better in the second half, specifically, to win and we didn't do that,” Robinson said. “I'm incredibly disappointed. I think everybody on the bus is incredibly disappointed. I hope it's past disappointed because in Big Ten you don't just give away games like that. Every win is huge and to have a team down 20 or 17 or whatever it was on their home floor and give it away, that's not acceptable."