COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Buckeyes finished off a 7-1 February on Saturday afternoon paced by William Buford's game high 24 points and yet another solid outing by Player of the Year candidate Evan Turner. Michigan (13-15, 6-10) made a game of it late in the first half but the Bucks shut the Wolverines down in the second half and held them to 26-percent shooting as Ohio State (23-7, 13-4) won 66-55.
Turner finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. On the downside he committed eight of Ohio State's 12 turnovers but he, Buford and Dallas Lauderdale combined for 56 of the team's 66 points.
Michigan on the other hand had all five starters score in double figures but nobody scored more than 11 points. Manny Harris was held quiet going 1-8 from the field and DeShawn Sims was held relatively in check going 4-12 from the field as well. A far cry from the 28 that he dropped on Lauderdale in Ann Arbor in January.
"I do my job and I do whatever I have to do to get the job done," Lauderdale said. "My teammates helped me out a lot of D Sims and he is a great player so it wasn't just a one man effort. He put up (28 points) on me in Michigan and I just didn't want that to happen again so I had to do what I had to do."
So obviously there was a little extra motivation that helped Dallas on both ends of the floor.
"Dallas was eager to play this game because Sims had a monstrous game against him up there up there," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "I thought for the most part he did a great job and guys made some great passes to find him and he did a nice job finishing around the basket."
Lauderdale tied his career his with 14 points on the afternoon and brought the house down with several alley-oop dunks including a highlight reel worthy one handed throw down in the second half. Dallas was in good spirits after the game about his big outing.
"I tell my teammates to just throw it and I am going to go get it," Lauderdale joked. "My teammates usually just call me 'go get it', they just throw the ball wherever in the air and I just go get it."
Things didn't go as smoothly in the first half when the Buckeyes squandered a 9-0 start in the game and several other nine point leads to go into the locker room down one. The Buckeyes went on a 15-4 run to start the second half and found their rhythm once again on defense.
"We just had to pick up the defensive intensity again and stop then so that we can get in transition and get running," Turner said.
The win gave the Buckeyes a win against every team in the conference as the Buckeyes earned the season split against Michigan. Was there anything extra sweet about the win coming against the rival school?
"It's a win if we stay in the hunt and it doesn't matter who we are playing against be it a rival or non-rivals because we are just trying to get wins," Lauderdale said.
With the win the Buckeyes now will wait for Michigan State and Purdue to play on Sunday afternoon. A win by the Spartans would move the Buckeyes into the lead (based on tiebreakers) in the Big Ten race for the regular season title. Matta said that his team would still be in practice during the game but that they might be able to catch the second half. There is always still more work to do for the Buckeyes.
"I don't think you are ever where you want to be," Matta said. "We shot 59-perecnt today and we want to be 100. But I think we have got a decent flow."
And now that the Wolverines have gotten a dose of a 100-percent Ohio State team they know that the Buckeyes will be a tough out the rest of the way.
"They would be a great representative of the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament and I don't think there is any question about that." Michigan head coach John Beilein said after the game.
Ohio State concludes its regular season Tuesday night at 9:00 pm (ET).