COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Jared Sullinger hammered away inside for 19 points and 15 rebounds and No. 1 Ohio State came back from a sluggish half to beat Michigan 62-53 Thursday night, helping the Buckeyes open with 23 wins for the second time in school history.
William Buford added 13 points as Ohio State (23-0, 10-0 Big Ten) extended its conference lead to three games.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points, Darius Morris 12 and Jordan Morgan 10 for Michigan (13-9, 3-6), which fell to 1-22 all-time against No. 1s.
The Wolverines led 26-23 at the half and by five early in the second half before Ohio State continually turned to Sullinger inside to force fouls or muscle his way in for baskets.
Ohio State was 15 of 25 at the line to Michigan’s 1 of 4.
The teams had met just 22 days earlier, with the Buckeyes holding on at the end for a 68-64 win.
The Buckeyes extended several streaks. First, they have their second 23-0 start in the program’s 112 years, exceeded only by the 27-0 run by the Jerry Lucas-led team of 1960-61. In addition, they won their 14th straight Big Ten game while moving to 64-4 all-time when ranked No. 1. They’re 10-0 in the conference for the first time since 1961-62.
Morris was coming off only the third triple-double ever at Michigan. He had 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in an 87-73 win over Iowa on Sunday.
Down 30-24 after a bucket inside by Morgan with 17:35 left, the Buckeyes muscled the ball inside to take over.
Evidence of the physicality: The first seven fouls of the second half were called against Michigan. The Buckeyes were in the bonus with 14:20 left.
An 8-0 run which featured a 3 by Buford, baskets by Sullinger and fellow freshman Aaron Craft and a free throw by David Lighty allowed Ohio State to break free from a tie at 36, only to have Evan Smotrycz and Hardaway hit 3s to cut the gap to two points. Sullinger then took a behind-the-back feed from Buford for a bucket inside, then hit two free throws in the double-bonus to push the lead back to six with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Ahead 50-45, the Buckeyes put it away by continually looking inside to Sullinger, who either bulled his way to the basket against the foul-plagued Wolverines or else flipped kick-out passes for wide-open shots.
Craft hit a reverse layup in traffic that brought the crowd out of its seats with 4:25 left, before Sullinger muscled his way in for a bank shot a minute later for a 54-45 advantage.
At the other end, Michigan had trouble getting good looks and missed shots when they did. They had turnovers on successive steals by Craft and Jon Diebler during Ohio State’s surge.
Michigan was forced to foul in the last minute and the Buckeyes padded their lead while the clock was stopped.
Michigan was up by three at the break and, for the most part, was in control.
Still, the Buckeyes scored the first seven points, holding the Wolverines scoreless for almost 3 1/2 minutes. Once they got going, however, the Wolverines seemed to be in synch.
They grabbed their first lead on Stu Douglass’ stop-and-pop from 15 feet at the 6:50 mark.
The Buckeyes, who had taken that 7-0 lead in the opening 1:35, managed just four points in the final 8-plus minutes.
Morris, who had 18 points and eight assists in the first meeting, ran the show again. He had 10 points while the Buckeyes tried to find someone to match up with him on defense.
Diebler had nine points and Sullinger eight points and eight rebounds for Ohio State – but no one else had more than two points. That duo was a combined 6 for 11 from the field, but everyone else was 3 for 14. The Buckeyes missed their last four shots behind the arc and ended the half 2 of 8 on 3-pointers.
The game was played before a capacity crowd of 18,809 – only the second sellout of the season for Ohio State.