COLUMBUS, Ohio – DeVante’ Jones scored 21 points and Michigan rallied in the second half, wrapping up its up-and-down Big Ten regular season by beating No. 23 Ohio State 75-69 Sunday.
Fill-in coach Phil Martelli guided the Wolverines (17-13, 11-9) as coach Juwan Howard finished out his five-game suspension for hitting a Wisconsin assistant in a postgame handshake line.
“I’m just in awe of the players’ character,” said Martelli, who went 3-2 in Howard's place. “I’m in awe of the support staff’s knowledge. What we wanted to try to be was balanced.”
Howard is expected back on the sidelines when the Big Ten Conference Tournament begins this week.
“We’ll have the same energy,” Jones said. “He’s going to bring that juice and we’re going to match his intensity.”
E.J. Liddell recorded his eighth double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Ohio State (19-10, 12-8).
Seedings for the conference tourney are still to be determined.
Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half and down by seven at the break, the Wolverines went on a 14-1 run midway through the second to jump ahead 56-44 with 10:18 left.
The Buckeyes pulled within four points with 11 seconds remaining, but Terrance Williams II made a pair of free throws to seal it.
“We didn’t handle the ball well at all,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “We were sloppy with it. We were soft with the ball.”
Williams added 17 points for the Wolverines while Eli Brooks and Moussa Diabate scored 14 apiece.
Malaki Branham led Ohio State with 18 points and Justin Ahrens had 12, including four 3-pointers.
Wolverines 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson missed Sunday’s game due to a stomach ailment.
“He didn’t feel strong enough,” Martelli said.
DIABATE STEPS UP
Without their starting center and leading scorer in Dickinson, the Wolverines needed a presence in the paint.
They turned to Diabate, who stands 6-foot-11, to fill that void. He finished 7 of 11 from the field and his seven rebounds tied for the team high in addition to making a block and steal.
“I believe that when we play as a team, it don’t matter who we’re missing,” Diabate said. “We’re definitely going to give a challenge to any team that we play.”
Michigan set a new season-high with 11 steals. It also held a 35-34 rebounding advantage with 13 boards on the offensive glass.
The Wolverines forced 13 turnovers off which they scored 12 points. They had seven second-chance points.
“We knew they had bigger bigs," Jones said, adding those players were “kind of slower.”
"It was easy for us,” he said. “It wasn’t really hard to figure out. We knew playing them last game, we had a couple layups, attacking downhill, so that was the same mindset.”
JONES RED HOT
Jones scored at least 21 points for the second time in four games and shot 56.8% in that span.
Against the Buckeyes, Jones knocked down a game-high nine field goals, finishing 9 of 16, while making nine assists and two steals.
“I just wanted to get the win. That was the main thing for me,” Jones said. “We had a great team win. We had a balanced scoring attack, so I can’t take all the credit.”
Ohio State honored seven players before the game.
Liddell, Ahrens, Joey Brunk, Cedric Russell, Jimmy Sotos, Jamari Wheeler and Kyle Young were all recognized.
Michigan: The Wolverines’ offense took a blow in Dickinson’s absence, shooting 41% after reaching at least 50% in the last three games.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes dropped their fourth game against unranked teams in their last seven outings. Opponents have shot 42.2% or better in six of those games.
“We need rest. We need to get healthy, but we need to play better and we need to defend better,” Holtmann said. “Health is certainly a factor.”
The Big Ten Tournament begins Wednesday.
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