By RUSTY MILLER/AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Nik Stauskas scored 15 points and Derrick Walton III added 13, including three critical free throws with 1:55 left, to power No. 15 Michigan to a 70-60 victory over No. 22 Ohio State on Tuesday night.
The victory ended a nine-game losing skid over the last 11 years in Columbus for the Wolverines (18-6, 10-2 Big Ten), who came into the game tied for the top spot in the conference with Michigan State.
Walton added 10 rebounds and six assists. Zak Irvin chipped in with 10 points.
LaQuinton Ross had 24 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. 13 for Ohio State (19-6, 6-6), which had a three-game winning streak snapped. The Buckeyes hadn’t lost to their archrivals on their home court since a 61-50 setback on Jan. 15, 2003.
The Wolverines were coming off an 85-67 loss at No. 17 Iowa on Saturday and had played three road games in 10 days and five games total over the last 13.
The loss all but eliminated the Buckeyes, who came in tied for fourth, from the Big Ten race. They won their first 15 games of the season to get to No. 3 in the nation, then lost four in a row before splitting the next two. Coming off two huge road wins, winning at No. 14 Wisconsin 59-58 on Feb. 1 and at No. 17 Iowa 76-69 on Feb. 4, they beat Purdue at home 67-49 on Saturday night.
Stauskas tossed in a long 3-pointer to start the second half to draw the Wolverines within a point, but the Buckeyes responded with a 7-0 run – four points from Ross and a 3 by Smith.
That eight-point lead disappeared, however, when Michigan scored on four straight possessions, including a dunk by Jon Horford off Walton’s assist, a 3 by Irvin, Columbus native Caris LeVert’s steal and end-to-end layup, and two foul shots by Stauskas.
That gave the Wolverines their first lead since their first basket at 44-43. The surge was part of a 12-0 run that turned the game around.
Stauskas picked up a basket on a goaltending call before Walton slashed through the lane and was fouled while spinning in a layup, completing the three-point play to make it 49-43 with 9:15 left.
After the teams traded baskets, Michigan native Amir Williams scored inside for the Buckeyes and, after Aaron Craft forced a 5-second call on Stauskas, Ross got his own miss and muscled it in for a three-point play to cut the deficit to 51-50.
The lead bounced back to six points after Jordan Morgan scored inside and then kept the ball alive on an offensive rebound, leading to a 3 by Stauskas.
Shannon Scott’s steal led to a dunk by Sam Thompson, and Michigan was hanging on, 56-52, with 3:24 left. But LeVert drove the lane and flicked a pass to the right corner to Glenn Robinson III, who hit a 3 with 2:45 left to push the lead to 59-52.
After Craft airballed a 3 at the other end, Walton was fouled on a 3 with 1:54 left and calmly made all three and the lead was 10.
The Buckeyes didn’t threaten again.
Much like the season, it was an up-and-down first half for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State, plagued by poor shooting all season, hit seven consecutive shots from the field at one point to take a quick 17-8 lead.
When Smith flipped in a 3 from the left wing with 6:23 left off an assist from Sam Thompson, the Buckeyes led 26-16.
But they didn’t have a field goal the rest of the half, misfiring on all six shots with two turnovers thrown in. That provided some daylight for the Wolverines, who had conceded two or three wide-open layups or dunks to fuel the Buckeyes’ early surge. With the Buckeyes limited to pumping up errant 3s, Michigan came rumbling back.
Morgan’s shot in the paint started a 10-2 run that featured shots behind the arc by Stauskas and LeVert, pulling the Wolverines to 28-26. Ross, who led the Buckeyes with 13 in the opening half, was fouled on a 3 in the final seconds and converted two of the free throws to put the Buckeyes up 30-26 at the break.
Stauskas had eight points on 2-of-6 shooting while being hounded by Craft.
It was the only regular-season meeting between the longtime rivals this season, due to the Big Ten’s 18-game, rotating schedule.
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