Scarlet shirts covered every seat, all of them sold and nearly every one of them occupied. Nineteenth-ranked Michigan was at Value City Arena, and No. 23 Ohio State was pulling out all the stops.
That included a pregame video customized for the first edition of the rivalry to be played in Columbus in more than two years. Footage of Evan Turner’s iconic three-pointer, Aaron Craft nabbing a steal and even Kyle Young’s torn jersey from earlier this season played out with a final tagline: Legends are born.
Young wasn’t part of this one. He watched while wearing a boot on his injured right ankle. Without him, the Buckeyes (20-9, 10-8 Big Ten) swept the season series against the Wolverines (18-11, 9-9) for the first time since 2010-11 with a 77-63 win Sunday afternoon.
And the locals loved every minute of it.
Sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr., a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who never received a scholarship offer from the Wolverines, led the way with 20 points. CJ Walker posted his most complete game of the season with 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and just one turnover. Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson each had 14 points, and each banked in a three-pointer late in the shot clock.
Ohio State has now defeated five ranked teams this season, its most since it beat six during the 2012-13 season. The win was its first against a ranked Michigan team since Jan. 13, 2013, a span of five such games.
Michigan opened up a modest three-point lead at 18-15 thanks to a 7-0 run punctuated by a pair of plays by Lima native Zavier Simpson. The Michigan senior stole the ball from Walker and laid it in to reclaim the lead at 16-15, then fed Austin Davis for a bucket off a pick-and-roll on the next possession as the Buckeyes strung together five straight empty possessions.
Andre Wesson stemmed the tide when he tossed in a floater from along the left baseline, and when Luther Muhammad stole the ball from Davis and scored on the break, it started a run that Washington Jr. would feed on.
Washington then hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions, the second of which saw him hardly even glance at the basket before letting go from the top of the circle, and the 10-0 run turned Ohio State’s three-point deficit into a 25-18 lead with 6:45 to play in the half. It would briefly grow to eight points, and the Buckeyes led 28-20 on a Kaleb Wesson three-pointer with 5:24 remaining, but the offense would stagnate and the Wolverines would draw closer.
Following Wesson’s three-pointer, his only first-half field goal, Ohio State would miss eight of its final 10 shots and turn the ball over twice as Michigan pulled with 32-29 before heading into the locker room. The Buckeyes went scoreless on their final five possessions of the half, a drought that included a pair of Wesson misses on the penultimate possession of the half and a miss on a left-handed hook on the final possession.