Thursday, January 16, 2003

Michigan 61, Ohio St. 50

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Maybe Michigan isn't a year or two away. The Wolverines, starting three freshmen and with a couple more contributing off the bench, stretched their winning streak to 10 in a row with a 61-50 victory over Ohio State on Wednesday night.

The Wolverines (10-6, 3-0 Big Ten), who lost their first six games this season, won for the first time at Value City Arena while snapping a seven-game losing streak to their rivals.

"We had five freshmen on the floor at various times," coach Tommy Amaker said. "That gave us confidence that we could fight through it and make a game of it."

They did more than that. It was the worst loss for the Buckeyes (8-6, 1-2) in their five years in their new home.

Freshman Daniel Horton hit just 4-of-15 shots from the field but led Michigan with 17 points. LaVell Blanchard added 13 and Bernard Robinson Jr. had 12.

The Wolverines used stifling defense to post their longest win streak since winning 12 straight during the 1992-93 season. Ohio State managed just 14 points over the final 18:27.

Michigan native Brent Darby scored 12 points for the Buckeyes - well under his 18.8 average. He hit just 2-of-12 shots from the field.

"It all revolves around Brent and they did a good job of guarding him with a bigger player," Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien said. "They had Robinson on Brent and they made it very hard on him."

Every time Darby made a move it seemed a Wolverine was in his face.

"The key was the team defense and everybody being in the right position," Robinson said. "Everybody was there to help me out when he was coming off those curls. We had to slow him up a little bit because he's very smart out there."

Ohio State led 46-45 on Shun Jenkins' three-point play with 8 minutes remaining but the Wolverines countered with an 8-0 run.

Blanchard hit two foul shots, then Chris Hunter stole the ball from Darby and Blanchard hit a follow at the other end. Blanchard's bucket was set up by an athletic save by Abram as the ball was going out of bounds.

"You saw a lot of our kids make a lot of phenomenal hustle plays," Amaker said.

Horton stole the ball at the other end and went coast to coast for a layup. After the teams traded possessions, Horton hit two more foul shots with 3:53 left for a 53-46 Michigan lead.

Ohio State never got closer than five points again as Michigan hit six consecutive free throws in the final 1:11.

"It's big time. This is Ohio State," Robinson said. "How many teams come in here and beat Ohio State at home? It was big for us in terms of confidence and keeping our streak alive."

Jenkins added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State while Jernigan had 10 points.

Darby missed all seven of his shots from the field in the second half and scored two points. Jenkins added five points after halftime on 2-of-5 shooting.

"I don't believe I got one open 3 today," Darby said. "They did a great job on the defensive end. It's the best I've seen from them."

Michigan hasn't lost since a 22-point defeat at Duke on Dec. 7.

"It's a statement for us, a statement around the league," Amaker said. "One of the things we talked about is this was our first road game (in the Big Ten). It was against the defending champions of our league, so let's go in with some confidence and some toughness and see if we can make a game of it. And we did."

MICHIGAN (10-6)-Robinson 4-7 4-4 12, Blanchard 4-9 3-3 13, Brown 2-2 1-3 5, Abram 3-6 0-0 8, Horton 4-15 6-6 17, Harrell 0-0 0-0 0, Groninger 0-1 3-3 3, Hunter 0-1 1-2 1, Bailey 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-43 18-21 61.

OHIO ST. (8-6)-Williams 4-5 0-0 8, Jenkins 4-11 4-4 12, Radinovic 1-1 2-2 4, Connolly 1-7 0-0 2, Darby 2-12 8-8 12, Jernigan 4-8 0-0 10, Sylvester 0-1 0-0 0, Marinchick 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 16-45 16-16 50.

Halftime-Ohio St. 32, Michigan 29. 3-point goals-Michigan 7-16 (Horton 3-8, Abram 2-3, Blanchard 2-4, Groninger 0-1). Ohio St. 2-17 (Jernigan 2-6, Connolly 0-5, Darby 0-6). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Michigan 26 (Robinson 6), Ohio St. 2733 (Jenkins 10).

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