Shorthanded Michigan Wolverines still manage to come from behind to get win at Ohio State, 75-69
By JACOB BENGE
COLUMBUS, Ohio — DeVante’ Jones scored 21 points and Michigan rallied in the second half, wrapping up its up-and-down Big Ten regular season by beating No. 23 Ohio State 75-69 Sunday.
Fill-in coach Phil Martelli guided the Wolverines (17-13, 11-9) as coach Juwan Howard finished out his five-game suspension for hitting a Wisconsin assistant in a postgame handshake line.
“I’m just in awe of the players’ character,” said Martelli, who went 3-2 in Howard’s place. “I’m in awe of the support staff’s knowledge. What we wanted to try to be was balanced.”
Howard is expected back on the sidelines when the Big Ten Conference Tournament begins this week.
“We’ll have the same energy,” Jones said. “He’s going to bring that juice and we’re going to match his intensity.”
E.J. Liddell recorded his eighth double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Ohio State (19-10, 12-8).
Seedings for the conference tourney are still to be determined.
Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half and down by seven at the break, the Wolverines went on a 14-1 run midway through the second to jump ahead 56-44 with 10:18 left.
The Buckeyes pulled within four points with 11 seconds remaining, but Terrance Williams II made a pair of free throws to seal it.
“We didn’t handle the ball well at all,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “We were sloppy with it. We were soft with the ball.”
Williams added 17 points for the Wolverines while Eli Brooks and Moussa Diabate scored 14 apiece.
Malaki Branham led Ohio State with 18 points and Justin Ahrens had 12, including four 3-pointers.
Wolverines 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson missed Sunday’s game due to a stomach ailment.
“He didn’t feel strong enough,” Martelli said.
DIABATE STEPS UP
Without their starting center and leading scorer in Dickinson, the Wolverines needed a presence in the paint.
They turned to Diabate, who stands 6-foot-11, to fill that void. He finished 7 of 11 from the field and his seven rebounds tied for the team high in addition to making a block and steal.
“I believe that when we play as a team, it don’t matter who we’re missing,” Diabate said. “We’re definitely going to give a challenge to any team that we play.”