INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes did not have nearly as much on the line Friday afternoon as the Michigan Wolverines and for stretches of the game it seemed as if Michigan wanted it more. Manny Harris hit shot with 2.2 seconds left to give the Wolverines a 68-66 lead but likely Player of the Year Evan Turner had the answer and shot off the game winning three pointer with 0.2 seconds left to send the Buckeyes to the Big Ten semifinals with a 69-68 final outcome.
The celebration was put on hold momentarily as the refs checked out the play several times on the video replay monitors before finally signaling a made basketball and after that point the large Buckeye contingent erupted again. Making big shots is nothing new for Turner who has made a career of big plays and he knew exactly what he needed to do.
"2.2 seconds is a long time," Turner said at the post game press conference. "They did a great job throwing the pass and Jeremie Simmons did a great job of creating a diversion and I was just trying to get the ball up and get it in shooting range and keep my follow through and it went in."
Coming out of the timeout the Buckeyes had five shooters on the floor with the insertion of Simmons and everyone knew that the ball could end up in their hands if the Wolverines decided to double Turner and fortunately for the outcome of the game Michigan coach John Beilein opted not to.
"Coach drew up a play and whoever got it was going to try and shoot it," Simmons said. "So I was just thinking that if it came my way I was going to try and get a shot up. ET made the shot and it was a good shot and he took it."
Those final two seconds ended up being a microcosm of the Michigan season and now the Wolverines are done with a 15-17 record. As the officials reviewed the play Beilein had little doubt that the shot was good and the game had been lost.
"I heard the buzzer go off when the ball was in the air so I assumed everything was good," Beilein said. "It's unfortunate but I don't think there was going to be any replay or anything that was going to make a difference.
Almost lost in the hoopla is the fact there were 39 minutes and 58 seconds of other action in the game. The Buckeyes came out slow with DeShawn Sims accounting for the first six points of the game over Dallas Lauderdale.
"What he was doing was basically taking me to the perimeter and he wasn't coming in the post," Lauderdale said. "He was stepping out and shooting a lot of jump shots and that was smart. I do well in the post but I am not a guard so I am not going to be able to guard a guard. What he did was very intelligent."
The Bucks would end up trailing by as many as nine points after Stu Douglass one of his five three pointers to put Michigan up 19-10. But Ohio State would answer going on a 25-6 run at that point to go to the halftime locker room up by ten but it was not the kind of start in the early stages that the Buckeyes wanted.
"Obviously it was a tremendous win and as we just about in the locker room we were not as mentally ready to the play the game as we should (have been)," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "Ten days off at this stage we didn't have, especially defensively, the things that we needed to do and the adjustments we needed to make throughout the course of the game."
So it seemed at that point that the Buckeyes had righted the ship but the Wolverines would not go away and after a 8-0 and 7-0 run in second half to draw closer and then went on a 11-6 run to take a two point lead with 2.2 seconds left after Manny Harris hit a jumper to put Michigan up 68-66. Harris scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half.
But it was not enough as the Buckeyes had time for one final charge and even though there were five options on the court pretty much everyone knew whose hands the ball would be in.
"I knew it was going in and I told him before," Lauderdale said. "I knew it was going and I don't know why but it is just a crazy feeling."
"When he made it I kind of had to look twice," Ohio State guard Jon Diebler said. "I was like man did he just make it and he did then I went crazy and there was a big sigh of relief."
Turner joked after the game that he watched his buddy Da'Sean Butler for West Virginia hit a banking three pointer at the end of regulation at the Big East Tournament. Turner joked around with Lauderdale about it and maybe showed off a touch for foreshadowing.
"I thought that if I ever got in that situation I am going to have make the shot too," Turner joked.
The Buckeyes won't have much time to celebrate with a game on Saturday awaiting them but Turner joked about a tweet that he sent earlier in the day on Friday about having a bad breakfast and how he might have to make alternative plans to eat Saturday morning.
"I am going to try and find something," Turner said. "I might have to go to Hooters (laugh) you never know."
Matta is now 11-2 against Michigan and he knows that the rivalry is nowhere nearly as intense in basketball as it is in football but it still feels pretty good.
"I know that Buckeye fans always like to win this and so do I," Matta said.