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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 17 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds as No. 4 Ohio State flexed its muscle inside to beat No. 20 Michigan 64-49 on Sunday, keeping the Buckeyes in a first-place tie in the Big Ten.
Jared Sullinger added 13 points and William Buford and Deshaun Thomas both had 12 for Ohio State (19-3, 7-2), which ran its winning streak over its archrival to six straight and eight of nine.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points for the Wolverines (16-6, 6-3). Trey Burke, the conference’s top freshman point guard, returned to his hometown to play for the first time against Sullinger, his former high school teammate, and finished with 13 points.
Michigan fell to 1-5 on opponents’ home courts this season.
The Buckeyes extended their homecourt winning streak to 38, the second-longest in the program’s 100 years.
Leading by three points at halftime, the Buckeyes pulled away with a 14-2 run midway through the second half. Bookended by 3-pointers by Burke, most of the points came as a result of backdoor cuts or drives. It didn’t include a 3.
Buford, who was quiet throughout the first half, got it started with a driving layup. Later in the spurt he stepped in front of Burke’s crosscourt pass and streaked the length of the court for a dunk.
Smith, who had more offensive rebounds than Michigan almost all game, scored twice – a layup on an assist from Buford and a short baseline jumper. Aaron Craft, Thomas and Sullinger, who sat out portions of the game due to foul trouble, all contributed two points to make it 48-35.
The Wolverines drew as close as 50-43 on a basket by Jordan Morgan inside. Morgan then stole the ball from Sullinger and grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3 by Stu Douglass. But as Morgan was bracing to go up for the follow, Craft darted in and stole the ball.
Craft, who finished with seven points, four assists and three steals, then had an assist on Thomas’ basket in traffic at the other end to make it 52-43. The lead never fell below eight points again.
The Buckeyes held a 24-21 lead after a grueling, physical, defense-dominated half.
Neither team was able to get into its offense because of the head-to-head battles, particularly between the point guards.
Burke had four assists and three turnovers to go with two points in 19 minutes. Craft managed two points with two turnovers and a steal. In a brief appearance, Shannon Scott had two steals.
There were four ties and seven lead changes in the first half.
Buford, Ohio State’s second-leading scorer and only senior, didn’t score in the opening 18:57 and finished the half with three points. Smith had nine points and seven rebounds.
Morgan had six points on 3-of-4 shooting while the rest of the team was 6 of 21.
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