February 5, 2013
Matta, Buckeyes edged out
Michigan's 76-74 overtime win against Ohio State ended with Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft flat on his back, looking plaintively skyward for a foul call that never came. Some in maize and blue probably considered that poetic justice.
Obviously, OSU head coach Thad Matta wasn't wearing those colors.
"I just watched it," an obviously agitated Matta said of videotape on the final play. "It is what it is."
Intensity and whistle swallowing marked the final, frenetic moments of Michigan's hard-fought win. Craft's blow to the head on U-M freshman Glenn Robinson III with 7.6 seconds left in overtime caused the officials to convene at the monitors to determine whether or not it was a flagrant foul.
They determined it wasn't, leading to Robinson's 1-for-2 effort at the free throw line, boosting Michigan's tenuous lead to two points and setting up Craft's final charge down the floor. Instead of the game-tying layup and double overtime, Craft absorbed a throw down to the floor, an official indicating a clean block and game over.
For a contest featuring a combined four fouls in the first half - one by the Buckeyes - the ending seemed to fit.
Matta wasn't about to fully say what was on his mind about the ending, but he did note the Wolverines needed to scramble like mad - and did - to come away with a win at home. Ohio State led by eight with 13 minutes remaining in the game before a torrent of three-pointers brought the Wolverines back.
Junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. nailed five straight, part of a 6-for-9 effort from beyond the arc in racking up a game-high 23 points. The Wolverines overall needed a torrid 58.3 percent on threes, 14-for-24, including 8-for-9 in the second half, to force overtime and eventually win.
"He caught fire," Matta said of Hardaway. "Really, the whole team did. We were there, we were challenging. Even the one that [Trey] Burke hit at the end, Aaron was right there, on the first three in overtime.
"They kind of got in that groove, and that was the difference. It was momentum. [Nik Stauskas'] three in transition was a huge one as well."
In the end, the Wolverines survived, and the Buckeyes - including their head coach - left town wondering what might have been. They're just a pair of three-pointers away from sweeping on the road in the State of Michigan, and instead come away empty-handed.
"Obviously, we didn't have quite enough tonight," Matta said. "It takes an effort like that. I'll say this - you've got to give Michigan credit. It took a heck of an effort on their part. The plays they made were tremendous plays.
"The last two road losses were by four points, at Michigan State and here. We needed something to kind of make our own luck there down the stretch. But this league is about getting knocked down and getting back up again. They're a great basketball team."
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