| The Detroit News
Indianapolis — Somehow, some way, Michigan had a shot.
The Wolverines were down 11 points with three minutes to go. They were in the midst of one of their worst shooting performances of the season. Sophomore wing Franz Wagner had already fouled out. Senior forward Isaiah Livers was sidelined with a foot injury.
Yet, top-seeded Michigan staged a furious rally and had a chance to beat No. 5 Ohio State on the last possession.
The improbable comeback came up short as grad transfer guard Mike Smith’s jumper missed the mark and the Wolverines fell in a 68-67 heartbreaker on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It hurts,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “It hurts when you lose. That’s part of this game of basketball. At times it can make you excited. Then when you’re on the other side, the loss column, it can sometimes bring you to your knees.”
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With the shot clock off, Smith dribbled near midcourt before freshman center Hunter Dickinson came out to set a screen near the 3-point line. Dickinson’s man, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell, switched onto Smith, who made his move with only a few seconds remaining. Smith’s step-back jumper bounced off the back of the rim and time expired in a scramble for the ball.
“We got exactly what we wanted — Mike for a ball screen, we got the switch and we got a good look at it,” Howard said.
The Wolverines had a timeout left but Howard opted not to use it. Instead, he drew up the final play for Smith — who was 1-for-10 from the field at that point — after Michigan cut the deficit to one with 47 seconds left and Ohio State called a timeout.
“I did not want to call a timeout because then I’ll let their defense get set up,” Howard said. “At times teams don’t know what you’re going to run when you have the ball in your hand in the last possession. We got the play, we got the action, got the shot. Unfortunately, we just missed it. I’ll take that shot any day.”
Dickinson had 21 points and eight rebounds, senior guard Eli Brooks scored 12 and Smith 10 for Michigan (20-4), which shot 35.1% from the field (20-for-57). Junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. replaced Livers in the starting lineup and finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
Duane Washington Jr., a Grand Rapids native, had 24 points and made five 3-pointers and Liddell added 18 points for Ohio State (21-8), which shot 12-for-22 from beyond the arc and was also down a starter in Kyle Young (concussion).
Despite Washington and Liddell combining for 32 points and the Buckeyes shooting 58.3% (14-for-24) after halftime, they nearly blew another double-digit lead in the second half.
Michigan’s Juwan Howard on closing seconds: ‘We got the play and the shot that we wanted’
Michigan coach discusses the final seconds where Mike Smith’s shot, which would have won the game, missed the mark in Saturday’s 68-67 loss to Ohio State.
The Detroit News
This rivalry rematch was physical and close for much of the contest. Ohio State started pulling away when it rattled off a 14-2 run that featured a heavy dose of Washington and Liddell. Washington buried two 3-pointers and Liddell had a three-point play to put Michigan in a 56-45 hole with 8:17 to play.
After leading by as much as 13, the Buckeyes still led 67-56 with 3:18 to go. But just when it looked like the Wolverines were done, they made a late charge behind Dickinson. They scored four straight and took advantage of a missed dunk to cut it to seven.
Then after a free throw made it 68-60 with 1:55 remaining, Dickinson scored inside, stripped Liddell and scored again. After another turnover, Michigan swung the ball and found senior guard Chaundee Brown for a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game with 48 seconds left.
Michigan’s Juwan Howard after Big Ten semifinal loss: ‘We have to keep our head up’
Wolverines coach reflects on defeat after team erased a 13-point deficit and made it a one-shot game in a 68-67 loss to Ohio State.
The Detroit News
Ohio State’s collapse continued when CJ Walker stepped on the baseline and turned the ball over with 28 seconds left, giving Michigan the final shot that went to Smith.
“That’s the play we went with and everybody was confident in it,” Dickinson said. “If we had an opportunity to go back, I would not be hesitant with letting Mike shoot that next one. I think we were all confident in Mike and I told him after the game I’d let him shoot that one again if he had the chance.”
Instead, it’s Ohio State that has a chance to take home the Big Ten tournament title while Michigan will be watching and waiting before learning about its NCAA Tournament draw.
“What we dealt with today with Franz being in foul trouble, we didn’t shoot the ball extremely well, we gave up 10 offensive rebounds, they made 12 3s and then only lose by one point? That shows a lot of character within this group,” Howard said. “We lost a tough battle. Now we’ve got to get ready for the NCAA Tournament.
“I think it’s going to be great for us to experience what we’ve experienced, not look back and keep forging ahead.”
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