Men's basketball: Buckeyes come up short against Wolverines

Ohio State fails to convert chances down the stretch

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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KYLE ROBERTSON | Dispatch
Aaron Craft loses control of the ball in the final seconds with Ohio State trailing by three points against Michigan.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ohio State couldn’t pull off another miracle.

The Buckeyes, who overcame an 18-point deficit yesterday in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal win over Nebraska, rallied from 16 down to take the lead against top-seeded Michigan today but couldn’t hold it and lost 72-69 in a semifinal in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The fifth-seeded Buckeyes had a chance to force overtime on the final play after Michigan’s Spike Albrecht missed a free throw with 6.2 seconds left. Aaron Craft, who rebounded the miss, pushed the ball upcourt to just short of the top of the key before rising for a three-point attempt in front of the Wolverines’ Glenn Robinson III. But the ball slipped from Craft's grasp as he went up, and Nik Stauskas recovered the loose ball as time ran out.

Stauskas scored 18 points, and Caris LeVert of Pickerington had 17 points and eight rebounds and to lead Michigan (25-7). The Wolverines will play Wisconsin or Michigan State in the tournament championship game on Sunday.

LaQuinton Ross had 19 points and Shannon Scott 18 points, six assists and three steals for Ohio State (25-9). The Buckeyes will await their NCAA Tournament fate at home at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday night.

The Buckeyes had played in the Big Ten tournament title game the past five seasons.

Ohio State, which trailed by 16 points in the first half, was down 56-44 with less than 14 minutes to play before it held Michigan to one field goal and four points in nearly nine minutes to take its first lead, 61-60, with 7:58 to play.

But Michigan tied it with a free throw, and the lead changed hands three more times in the next 3 1/2 minutes. The Wolverines claimed it for good on two free throws by Robinson for a 69-68 lead with 2:55 to play, and Stauskas extended it to 71-69 with a baseline drive and reverse layup.

Ross made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the Buckeyes’ deficit to two points with 44.5 seconds left, and Albrecht made the first of his free throws to make it a three-point game with 6.2 seconds left.

Albrecht was fouled after a Stauskas miss with 10 seconds left that was rebounded by LeVert, his only offensive rebound of the game.

Michigan had made seven threes and led 32-16 when Ohio State turned the momentum with a trio of threes from Marc Loving, Scott and Craft. That got the Buckeyes within 37-25 and started a 21-9 run that cut their deficit to 41-37 at halftime.

Scott was huge off the bench both scoring and disrupting Michigan’s offense with his activity off the ball.

Michigan scored only four points in the last six minutes, and Ohio State closed with a 10-4 run in the final 3:32 while playing a smaller lineup without center Amir Williams.

Ross, who had only two field-goal attempts to that point, got three in the run and made two.

bbaptist@dispatch.com

@BBaptistHoops

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