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March 16, 2012

Instant Breakdown: Ohio 65, Michigan 60

Ohio jumped out early on Michigan, scoring the first five points, and kept the offensive pressure on the Wolverines throughout the first half. Diminutive point guard D.J. Cooper was the expected sniper, scoring 13 first half points, but forward Ivo Baltic, a 9.0 per game scorer), was a match-up problem for U-M, as well, scoring six of his own. Tim Hardaway Jr. was aggressive to keep Michigan close early, but the Bobcats were the better team in a 65-60 win.

The Wolverines struggled both inside and out in the first half, missing at least three from two feet (including two by senior Zack Novak) and converted on only 12 of 28 first half shots. U-M also suffered some unforced turnovers and continued to miss in close, playing tight and without poise, while Ohio continued to light it up. A phantom foul call on Novak led to three Cooper free throws and a 32-22 Ohio lead at the five-minute mark before Burke barely drew iron on an open three. Ohio's Nick Kellogg countered with a three at the top, left all alone, before a Burke steal and finish stopped the bleeding, 35-24.

Michigan then made a run to close the half. A Hardaway three made it 35-27 at 1:37, and an Evan Smotrycz tip-in brought it to within six at the half. The Wolverines had a chance to cut more off the lead, but the same, last-possession play that hasn't worked most of the year … Burke holding for 30 seconds before launching a three … came up short again.

Hardaway scored 10 points for U-M on 4-for-9 shooting, while Morgan and Smotrycz added six each. The Wolverines turned it over seven times, and five were unforced.

Second Half

U-M opened the half missing two more bunnies inside, one by Morgan and one by Novak. Baltic hit a fadeaway jumper with a hand in his face at the other end to push the lead back to eight.

Cooper countered two Hardaway free throws and a Novak putback to keep it at six with 17:30, and Ohio continued to answer most Michigan makes with buckets of their own. The Wolverines helped by continuing to miss lay-ups, including two by Hardaway and another by senior Stu Douglass. Smotrycz hit two key triples to help Michigan hang around, including the first cutting it to 42-40, the second 46-43, but the Bobcats always had an answer. Their looks came easier, and one of the easiest came on T.J. Hall's three that made it 53-45 with 11 minutes to go that put U-M on the ropes.

Smotrycz drove and finished a three-point play to again help the Wolverines keep it close, 48-53, but a 6-2 Ohio run pushed the lead back to nine. The Wolverines couldn't guard the Bobcats - especially Cooper - off the dribble, and couldn't recover when they got beat. On the other end, they consistently struggled to find the open man and couldn't make the big shot to get over the hump.

The still wouldn't go away. Burke answered an Ohio free throw with a triple from the top, making it a 60-57, one-possession game with just over five minutes remaining.

It went back to six on a few unlucky whistles before Burke hit another from the top to make it 63-60 with four minutes to play.

The Wolverines had their chances down the stretch. Neither team would score for the next two minutes, Smotrycz missing an easy clear out finish and Burke a triple from the top. Novak missed a triple from the corner with just over a minute to go, but Burke forced a turnover at the other end, giving U-M yet another opportunity. He missed yet another triple from the top, but the Wolverines got the ball back with 40.1 seconds remaining.

Burke missed again, and Smotrycz lost the ball with an unforced turnover with 6.8 seconds to play and fouled out trying to recover it. Ohio iced it with two free throws at the other end.

The Wolverines missed their last seven shots, six of them triples.

Burke finished with 16 points, Smotrycz with 15 and Hardaway with 14 for Michigan. Cooper led Ohio with 21.

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