ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. kept Michigan in the game when the Wolverines weren’t playing a whole lot of defense.
Then he ended it by smothering Ohio State’s final chance of overtime.
Hardaway brought his team back with a relentless streak of 3-point shooting, and his blocked shot gave No. 3 Michigan an exhilarating 76-74 victory over No. 10 Ohio State on Tuesday night.
Aaron Craft’s last two shots were blocked – one by Trey Burke, and the next by Hardaway right under the basket.
“I saw the ball in my face, so I just tried to wrap it up,” Hardaway said. “Probably got his arm or something like that, but like I said, it’s up to the refs to call that call, and they let it go.”
Craft’s side of the story? Fairly similar, actually.
“There was a bit of contact,” he said. “But they didn’t call it, so I guess it wasn’t a foul.”
After scoring at will most of the second half, Ohio State (17-5, 7-3 Big Ten) managed only two points in overtime.
Hardaway finished with 23 points, including five straight 3-pointers in the second half. Burke missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation that would have won it for Michigan – the Wolverines’ only miss in nine second-half attempts from beyond the arc.
Burke’s 3 at the start of overtime made it 75-72, and then neither team scored until Craft’s driving layup with just under a minute to play.
Craft stole the ball from Burke, but the Michigan point guard hustled back to prevent an easy basket. The ball went out of bounds to Ohio State.
With the shot clock off, Craft drove past Burke, but Burke recovered to block Craft’s shot from behind at the free throw line. Glenn Robinson III was fouled and made one of two free throws for Michigan (21-2, 8-2) with 7.6 seconds left.
Down by two points, Craft rushed the ball into the frontcourt, tried to drive past Burke, then found Hardaway in his way.
“I thought Trey fouled him, and then I thought the whistle was going to blow, and then I just went for the ball,” Hardaway said.
Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points for the Buckeyes.
Michigan and Ohio State were meeting for the first time with both teams ranked in the top 10. The Buckeyes handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season last month. Michigan rebounded and was ranked No. 1 in the country before a loss Saturday night at Indiana, which moved to No. 1.
With a sold-out, early arriving crowd cheering them on Tuesday, the Wolverines went on a 12-0 run in the first half. They led 18-8 after Burke scored off a nifty hesitation dribble.
“With that crowd right now, it was going to be tough to beat us today, even though we didn’t play our best,” said Michigan coach John Beilein, who was celebrating his 60th birthday. “With that crowd and this atmosphere, it was exciting to be the coach today.”
The Buckeyes settled in, eventually taking a 29-28 lead when Craft drove for a layup. Ohio State was ahead 31-30 at halftime.
The Buckeyes led 48-40 after a 3-pointer by Lenzelle Smith Jr., but Hardaway and the Wolverines rallied. Hardaway’s fourth 3-pointer of the half put the Wolverines up 55-54.
Amid all that, the Buckeyes stayed patient on offense. Smith’s three-point play inside put Ohio State back ahead, and a 3-pointer by LaQuinton Ross made it 60-55.
Ohio State led 62-60 after another 3-pointer by Hardaway, and the Wolverines were eventually able to stop the Buckeyes for a couple of possessions. Burke’s breakaway layup followed by a 3-pointer from Nik Stauskas put Michigan back ahead 65-64.
With tension mounting, both teams took advantage of fortunate bounces. After Hardaway’s shot was blocked, the Wolverines came up with the loose ball and immediately got it to Burke for a 3 that put them up 68-65. At the other end, Nik Stauskas grabbed a defensive rebound, but his poor pass bounced right to Thomas, who caught it in rhythm in front of the Ohio State bench and sank a 3 to tie it.
Smith tied it at 72 in the final minute with a shot from the left corner – his foot was on the 3-point line – and Ohio State held on to force overtime.
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