Ohio State never led in a 77-69 loss at Michigan (13-10, 7-5) on Sunday, giving the Buckeyes their fourth loss in a row and dropping them to 11-12 on the season and 3-8 in Big Ten play.
It is the first time the Buckeyes have been under .500 this late in the season since 2004.
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson led all players with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Jett Howard added 16 points for the Wolverines.
Ohio State was led by freshman point guard Bruce Thornton’s 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Thornton was more aggressive than he’s been all season long, but it didn’t matter.
Freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh scored 14 points and led OSU with nine rebounds before fouling out late. Senior forward Justice Sueing also scored 14 points.
Thornton’s first basket was a driving layup that cut Michigan’s lead to 10-6. He would finish the half with 11 points. The Buckeyes cut the lead to one following a Sensabaugh free throw, but baskets by Howard and Dickinson pushed the lead back to 22-14. A layup by Kobe Bufkin gave Michigan their first 10-point lead with 9:50 left in the first half.
Thornton cut it to six points with a jumper, but it went right back up to 11 following a layup from Terrance Williams and another three from Howard. Thornton answered with a three of his own to make it 34-26 with 5:45 remaining. Thornton’s three was the start of an 8-0 run for OSU, which Bufkin snapped with another layup.
A jumper from Thornton made it 36-33 with 3:03 to play, but Howard and Dickinson again bumped the lead back to eight points with baskets. Sueing hit a three with 46 seconds left to give the game a halftime score of 41-36 Michigan.
Ohio State shot just 34.3% from the field in the first half, which was markedly worse than Michigan’s 51.6%. The Buckeyes only had one first-half turnover, however, which allowed them to stay in the game.
Ohio State opened the second half by going with freshman center Felix Okpara instead of starter Zed Key. Michigan attacked the freshman with Dickinson, who scored eight points in the first eight minutes of the half. Key then replaced Okpara but almost immediately missed a layup and then turned the ball over, which sandwiched yet another basket by Dickinson.
Thornton cut it to 64-55 with a three, but Michigan built the lead back up to 13 points before another Thornton jumper made it 70-59 with 4:41 remaining. The Buckeyes still couldn’t get it into single digits until Thornton hit a floater in the lane to make it 74-65 with 44 seconds to play.
The Box Score
[Bruce Thornton header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]