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February 5, 2013

Michigan tops Ohio State in overtime thriller

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With 21.3 seconds remaining in regulation and the score between No. 10 Ohio State (17-5, 7-3) and No. 3 Michigan (21-2, 8-2) tied at 72, Buckeyes' point guard Aaron Craft had a rhetorical question for the Wolverines' Trey Burke.

"'Doesn't it seem like we were just doing this?'" Craft asked, according to Burke.

What Craft was referencing was the matchup between OSU and Michigan on Jan. 13, where Burke missed a potential game-winning shot with 17 seconds remaining in a Buckeyes' victory in Columbus. And while deja vu took place on Tuesday, with the Ohio native missing a similar step back jumper as time expired, it wasn't enough for OSU to hold off the Wolverines, who walked away from the Crisler Center with a 76-74 win.

"It felt kind like I was kinda back at Ohio State shooting the same shot. Missed it again," Burke said. "I was just glad that we had another opportunity to win the game."

As has been the case in the previous four contests between the two teams over the course of the past two seasons, Tuesday's contest came down to the battle between Burke and Craft. Of the combined points scored between OSU and Michigan in overtime, five of them came from the team's respective point guards, with Craft failing to convert on two consecutive chances to tie or take the lead in the game's final 10 seconds.

The Buckeyes' junior point guard's first opportunity came with his team trailing 75-74 and nine seconds remaining in the game. After an Ohio State timeout, Craft used a Deshaun Thomas pick to get to the elbow and attempt a go-ahead jumper, only to have his shot blocked from behind by Burke.

Craft's second- and more controversial- attempt came after Glenn Robinson III split a pair of ensuing free throws, giving the Buckeyes one last chance to win or send the game into a second overtime.

Once Thomas found Craft following his defensive rebound with seven seconds left on the clock, the junior guard raced down the court in hopes of making a game-tying layup with two seconds remaining in the game. At the rim, Craft was met by Burke and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., both of whom seemingly made contact with him, before he missed his final shot attempt, with no whistle being called to send Ohio State to the line with the chance to tie the game.

"Maybe," Craft said when asked if he thought he was fouled on his final drive. "There was a lot of contact during the game so you've got to move on."

Burke- a product of Columbus' Northland high school- finished the game with 16 points and eight assists, two of which aided Hardaway Jr., who led all scorers on Tuesday with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting. At one point, the Wolverines' junior guard connected on four consecutive 3-point shot attempts during a back-and-forth second half that saw the Buckeyes answer each Michigan punch in a variety of ways.

Sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross scored 16 points- nine of which came in the second half- for the Buckeyes, in his best outing since Big Ten play began in January. Similarly, OSU center Amir Williams made his presence felt, scoring six of his nine points in the second half, four of which came on back-to-back dunks with fewer than six minutes remaining in regulation.

"They grew up," Thomas said of his sophomore teammates. "That's one thing about this team- that we showed heart. We fought. We fought until the end."

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, however, it wasn't enough.

After leading OSU in scoring in regulation with 17 points, Thomas didn't touch the ball on offense once in overtime, where the Buckeyes made just one of their five shot attempts and committed two turnovers. The Big Ten's leading scorer said him not even attempting a shot in the game's final five minutes wasn't a result of anything special the Wolverines did.

"I was just trying to do anything to win the ball game," Thomas said. "We don't need a guy that's going to jack up or force some shots."

With the loss, Ohio State falls from second to fourth place in the Big Ten standings, trailing Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana. The Buckeyes will get the chance to make up some ground when they return to action on Sunday, to host the No. 1-ranked Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1) for a 1 p.m. tipoff at the Schottenstein Center.

"We gotta learn from this game and keep fighting," Thomas said. "This team showed and they sure they showed the coaches that we can play with anybody in the country."



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