Since taking over the spot of the No. 1 team in the nation, the Buckeyes have continued to give fans something to cheer about. The Buckeyes’ 23-0 overall record is the second-best start in school history since the Jerry Lucas era, and they currently hold the nation’s longest active winning streak at 23, remaining the only unbeaten team in the country.
Before the season started, there weren’t many people who believed Ohio State had a team that would’ve remained undefeated through 23 games, won numerous NCAA and Big Ten weekly player awards, and had arguably brought in the best recruiting class of any other team this year.
Thursday evening the Buckeyes validated just why they were No. 1, as they defeated Michigan with an impressive second half comeback victory. Ohio State trailed down by 3 at the end of the first half, shooting just 36.0% from the field. Coach Matta, seen standing for most of the half, had mixed feelings on the starting performance. “Honestly, I give Michigan a lot of credit. We were not as sharp as we needed to be in the first half,” Matta said. “We gave up turnovers that lead to easy baskets. It’s unacceptable.”
The Buckeyes were able to pull off an 8-0 run mid-second half to spark their comeback. William Buford knocked down a huge 3 point basket leading up to the run, then another to start it. Buford ended the night going 3-6 from three point range, with 4 assist, and scored a total of 13 points against the Wolverines.
Jared Sullinger muscled his way to his 10th double-double of the season, as the Michigan excised their right to foul, sending the Buckeyes to the line for 25 free throw attempts. Sulligner scored 19 points, along with 15 rebounds, and once again played a key role in another Buckeyes victory. John Beilein, Michigan head coach stated, “When you’re guarding the length and quickness they have, and Jared Sullinger, it’s hard to guard without fouling. You’re looking at the number one team in the country. Jared Sullinger is a freshman but an unusual freshman. It’s incredible. He’s hard to guard and you can get to foul trouble.”
Michigan came into the game with a record of only 13-9, but put up a fierce battle before the control slowly slipped into Ohio State’s favor. Jared stated, “In the second half, we just took our intensity to another level. We know that it’s Michigan and they were going to give their toughest game. We knew about the rivalry, and we just had to take it to another level.”
The Buckeyes also received offensive help from David Lighty who scored 9 points, Jon Diebler also with 9, and Aaron Craft who chipped in another 8. Ohio State’s chemistry seems to get better and better with each game. As a team, Craft stated “I think the biggest thing is that we have confidence in our offensive ability. One of the biggest keys is our defensive ability. We pick it up when we need to and that kind of sparks it.”
Ohio State face Penn State this Sunday on the road, then come back to play both Northwestern and Indiana at home all in the same week. On whether the Buckeyes would remain undefeated, Michigan Coach Beilein stated, “Well, we won’t beat them unless it’s the tournament. They have a good team. Anyone can get you anytime. It’s never been easy but home or away you are in for a battle. Ohio State is really good. There is a reason why they are undefeated.”
**View slideshow to see images from the game.