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Hunter Dickinson powers Michigan past Ohio State for important win

MLive Ann Arbor 2/5/2023 Andrew Kahn,

ANN ARBOR — As Michigan warmed up before Sunday afternoon’s game against Ohio State, one Wolverine staff member called the contest a “must win.” Michigan needs to string together some wins late in the season, and protecting home court is especially important.

The Wolverines delivered on Sunday, beating Ohio State 77-69 at Crisler Center behind Hunter Dickinson’s 26 points.

Michigan (13-10, 7-5) now owns a winning streak for the first time in a month as it fights to get into the NCAA Tournament discussion. Michigan moved into a five-way tied for third place in the Big Ten.

Dickinson, facing single coverage most of the game, made 10-of-15 shots and added 11 rebounds.

Michigan started strong and led by at least seven for the final 13 minutes. It was the ideal start to a three-game homestand that continues with visits from Nebraska (Wednesday) and Indiana (Saturday).

Kobe Bufkin tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for Michigan, and Jett Howard added 16 points. Michigan shot 49 percent from the field compared to Ohio State’s 41 percent.

Ohio State protected the ball and hit the offensive glass to stay in the game for the first half, trimming an 11-point deficit to five at the break. Six minutes into the second half, the Buckeyes got within three before consecutive baskets from Dickinson and a driving layup from Joey Baker (eight points) made it 56-47. The visitors never seriously threatened again.

Michigan will try to maintain the momentum that started with a comfortable win at Northwestern on Thursday. Before Sunday, Michigan hadn’t won consecutive games since starting 2023 with wins over Maryland (Jan. 1) and Penn State (Jan. 4).

Ohio State (11-11, 3-8) has lost three in a row and nine of its last 10. Sunday was Ohio State’s first loss at Crisler since Jan. 29, 2019. Bruce Thornton led the Buckeyes with 22 points; Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing each had 14.

Michigan had a chance to go up double digits early in the second half, but Terrance Williams II missed a wide-open 3 and had a pass stolen (Dickinson wasn’t looking for it). Both led to Ohio State baskets that cut the deficit to three.

It was again three before the aforementioned run started by Dickinson and finished by Baker gave Michigan some breathing room again.

As Ohio State went five-plus minutes with nothing more than three free throws, Michigan went up 61-50 on Dug McDaniel’s 3 with 9:26 left. Two minutes later, Baker’s 3 made the lead a dozen.

Michigan started hot, with McDaniel and Bufkin swishing 3s on Michigan’s first two possessions. Dickinson scored twice to make it 10-4 early. Michigan had a 7-0 spurt midway through the half: Howard hit a 3 and showed nice touch on a feed to Dickinson, who was fouled and made both free throws. Bufkin had a strong drive in transition to give Michigan a 24-14 lead with 9:50 left.

Running the point with McDaniel on the bench, Bufkin found Terrance Williams II for a basket inside and Howard for a quick-hitter 3. Michigan led 34-23, and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann called timeout with six minutes left.

With 4:46 left in the half, Michigan assistant Saddi Washington was assessed a technical foul simply for voicing his displeasure with the officiating. It came during an 8-0 Ohio State run that got the visitors within three, 34-31.

Michigan led 41-36 at half. Dickinson had 13 points; Bufkin and Howard each had 10. Thornton had 11 for Ohio State, which hung around despite 34-percent shooting thanks to seven offensive rebounds and just one turnover.

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