Ohio State defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 56-53 in a hard fought basketball game that looked like it was going to end up like some other close games this year — Buckeyes dominate early, let their opponent claw their way back into the game and then go cold at the worse opportune time possible. This time it was the Buckeyes time to close out a close game against one of the better teams in the country.
I’d like it was a reverse psychology move on my part, doubting Aaron Craft’s skills and wondering if Trey Burke was perhaps the better point guard. It was only one game, but it was definitely Aaron Craft’s defense that flustered and smothered an obviously motivated Burke. Burke came out swinging, hitting the first three pointer of the game and looked like he was going to set the tone for the rest of the day. But the Buckeyes fought back, took a sizeable lead and never looked back.
Craft hounded Burke all game. Burke scored 15 points but it took 4-13 shooting to get that. Burke also had four turnovers. For whatever reason, either the Buckeyes play Tim Hardaway Jr. well or he simply struggles against the Buckeyes. He pitched in 12 but also was 1-6 from three point range and 5-15 overall. Deshaun Thomas played Glenn Robinson III as well as I think could be expected and made him a non-factor. His three at the end of the second half was clutch but other than that big shot, he really didn’t hurt the Buckeyes.
Speaking of Thomas, Deshaun was clearly motivated today to play well and even gutted through some pain near the end. When Deshaun is getting floorburns, you know it’s been a dog fight. Deshaun led all scorers with 20, hitting a couple important threes but his put back under the rim near the end was just as important.
This was a great game to watch, much more enjoyable than that debacle against Illinois. Thad Matta had his team ready for this Michigan game, had a clear defensive game plan to stop Burke and company and got his guys up for the game. This is just the start of a tough road through the Big Ten, but this was a huge win for both Craft’s confidence and this team as a whole moving forward.