COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team fell shy in its bid to upset No. 3 Ohio State, falling 76-63 to the Buckeyes Tuesday night (Feb. 6) in Value City Arena. The Wolverines (16-8, 4-5 Big Ten) put forth a valiant effort the length of the contest, as U-M trailed 56-52 with less than eight minutes left in the game. However, Michigan fell victim to a late 13-5 Ohio State run, vaulting the Buckeyes (21-3, 9-1 Big Ten) to the victory.
The Wolverines received strong efforts from their post players, led by senior Courtney Sims' (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) team-high 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting and six rebounds. Freshman Ekpe Udoh (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe HS) added a career-high 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting in addition to pulling down five rebounds.
Complementing Sims and Udoh was the outside play of senior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Redford HS). Harris recorded 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 2-for-3 from three-point range.
After suffering through an almost three-minute scoreless drought to begin the contest, both teams traded baskets to a 6-6 tie heading into the game's first timeout at 14:45. The Wolverines spread the floor in the early going with junior Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) connecting on a midrange jumper before giving way to low-post scores by Sims and senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS).
Michigan took its first lead, 11-10, at 13:15 on a three-pointer from Harris. It was his second straight hoop in less than a minute, with the first coming on a soft finger roll deep in the paint. Harris finished the first half with five points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field in addition to pulling down a rebound.
The Wolverines continued to push the No. 3 team in the nation, regaining a 23-22 advantage at 6:29 after falling behind by four. Defeating the Buckeye full-court press, Michigan connected on a series of easy baskets underneath the rim, including a layup by Sims fed by a streaking Abram. Sims led the Maize and Blue in the first stanza with eight points on 4-for-7 shooting in addition to tallying five boards.
Udoh, starting in place of injured senior Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS), recorded six of the last eight U-M points before the break, sending the Wolverines into halftime trailing 33-29. Giving the Buckeyes all they could handle in the game's first 20 minutes, Michigan answered OSU baskets on its following possession on 12 different occasions.
The Buckeyes stretched their lead to 41-31 on a dunk by Greg Oden at 18:07 in the second half. However, with Oden picking up his third foul and on the bench in foul trouble, the Wolverines responded by cutting the Ohio State advantage to 45-41 with just under 15 minutes left to go in the half. Harris led the Michigan charge, drilling a midrange jumper and then a shot from beyond the arc. A Sims bucket and a free throw by sophomore Jevohn Shepherd (Toronto, Ontario/West Hills Collegiate) rounded out the 10-4 Wolverine run.
The trio of Harris, Udoh and Sims combined for nine of U-M's next 11 points, but the score stalemated at 56-52 in favor of Ohio State with under nine minutes left in the ballgame. That is when the Buckeyes, led by Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis, exploded for a 13-5 run, ending Michigan's hopes of an upset. Conley finished with a career-high 23 points.
Udoh connected on a pair of baskets and Sims added a dunk in the final two minutes, but the baskets were too little too late as Conley finished the game by sinking two free throws, thus icing the 76-63 Buckeye victory.
The Wolverines will look to rebound as they return to Crisler Arena Saturday night (Feb. 10) to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The game will mark the first of two games against the Gophers in a two-week span. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on ESPN-Plus Local.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423