Wolverines hold off comeback Buckeyes 72-69

Michigan guard Nik Stauskas (11) drives the ball against Ohio State forward Sam Thompson (12) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament Saturday, March 15, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — No. 8 Michigan blew a 12-point second-half lead, then finished the game on a 7-1 run to beat archrival Ohio State 72-69 in Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal.

The league’s regular-season champs will face No. 12 Wisconsin or No. 22 Michigan State in Sunday’s championship game.

Nik Stauskas had 18 points and Caris LeVert had 17 to lead the Wolverines (25-7), winners of seven straight. It will be Michigan’s first title game appearance since 1998, when it won its only tourney title, which was later vacated.

Ohio State (25-9) was led by LaQuinton Ross with 19 points and Shannon Scott with 18.

The Buckeyes rallied to take their lead at 61-60 with 7:57 to go and still led 68-65 with 4:12 to play.

But the Wolverines allowed just one free throw the rest of the way and Aaron Craft lost control of the ball on a potential tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

The Buckeyes were on the verge of pulling off a second stunning comeback in two days. After digging out of an 18-point deficit to beat Nebraska in Friday’s quarterfinals, the Buckeyes found themselves down 16 in the first half and 12 with 14:56 to play.

But Michigan rallied to fend off the Buckeyes, who lost for only the third time in their last 10 games.

The Wolverines hadn’t won back to back games in their last 15 frustrating Big Ten tourney trips, and had lost all six previous matchups against the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines opened both halves with three consecutive 3-pointers, breaking to a 15-2 lead to open the game and appeared headed toward an easy win after turning a 41-37 halftime lead into a 54-42 advantage just four minutes into the second half.

The Buckeyes used a 9-2 spurt to get within 56-51 and finished a 10-2 run with Sam Thompson’s alley-oop dunk to take their first lead, 61-60, with 7:57 to go.

That’s when last year’s national runner-up got tough.

Michigan cut the Ohio State lead to 68-67 on an 18-foot jumper from Stauskas, the Big Ten’s player of the year, and retook the lead for good when Glenn Robinson III made two free throws with 2:55 to play.

All the Buckeyes could muster after that was one free throw from Ross, but they still had a chance to tie it after Spike Albrecht missed the second of two free throws with 6.2 to seconds to go.

But the ball came right out of Craft’s hands as he leapt to take the shot from the top of the key and the Wolverines came up with the loose ball to seal it.

WOOD TV8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s