ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Kaleb Wesson, the Ohio State men’s basketball team edged Michigan, 61-58, Tuesday night at Crisler Center. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 15-7 on the year, 5-6 in the Big Ten, while the Wolverines drop to 13-9, 4-7 in conference play.
The Buckeyes wrap up their short two-game road swing at Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Wesson’s double-double was his third in a row, 10th of his junior campaign and 16th of his career. Duane Washington Jr. added 17 points for the Buckeyes while Kyle Young poured in 12 points and pulled down five boards. Zavier Simpson paced Michigan with 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists while Austin Davis chipped in with 11 points.
In a physical opening half, Ohio State bounced back from a 5-0 deficit behind a strong effort from Wesson as the junior center scored 12 of the Buckeyes’ first 16 points to pull Ohio State ahead 16-7 with 8:52 remaining. However, the Wolverines, who missed 14 of their first 17 shots from the field, went on a 15-5 spurt over the next 5:21 to regain the lead at 22-21 with 3:31 left to play. Justin Ahrens then hit a 3-pointer and E.J. Liddell made a layup to push the Buckeyes in front 26-22 with 2:16 remaining but an Eli Brooks 3-pointer with 1:19 left in the half cut the Ohio State lead to 28-27 at the break.
Wesson led the Buckeyes with 15 points at the half while Brandon Johns Jr. paced the Wolverines with eight.
The second half was back-and-forth once again, with neither team holding a lead of more than three points until consecutive buckets from Washington Jr. and Young gave the Buckeyes a 46-42 advantage with 7:05 to go in the contest. However, Simpson answered with a 3-pointer and a layup for the Wolverines before a Davis putback made it a 49-46 Michigan advantage with 5:36 remaining.
The Buckeyes scored the next five on a layup from Young and another 3-pointer from Washington Jr. but Davis again came up with a big bucket for the Wolverines, knotting the score at 51-51 with 4:28 on the clock. Davis scored again coming out of the under-4 media timeout but Wesson responded with a 3-point play to give the Buckeyes a 54-53 lead with 2:21 left to play. Brooks answered with a 3-pointer to give the Wolverines two-point advantage with 1:21 remaining but Washington Jr. again came up big with a 3-pointer to push Ohio State on top at 57-56 with 54 seconds to go.
On the Wolverines’ ensuing possession, Simpson drove to the hoop and was fouled by Young on the shot but Simpson pulled the Buckeyes’ forward down, resulting in a flagrant foul on the Michigan guard. Simpson and Young each followed by making their respective free throws as Ohio State held a 59-58 advantage with 33 seconds left on the clock. CJ Walker was then fouled with 17 seconds remaining and calmly hit a pair of shots from the charity stripe to give Ohio State the three-point advantage before Brooks missed a corner 3-pointer in the final seconds as the Buckeyes came away with the win.
The Wolverines held a 42-30 advantage on the boards but Ohio State led 30-16 in points in the paint and 24-16 in bench scoring.