COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michigan was swept away by Ohio State last season and lost four straight games to Columbus, last winning in the 2013-14 season. It’s a rivalry and Michigan is aiming for a Big Ten championship.
The Wolverines probably didn’t need the extra motivation for Sunday’s game with Ohio State. They found some anyway before beat the Buckeyes 92-87.
Juwan Howard has shown his players video clips that “rubbed us the wrong way,” according to senior Eli Brooks. One of them included the Buckeyes dancing in their locker room after beating Michigan last season. (May be this.)
“He just kept showing it,” said senior Chaundee Brown. “Just basically disrespect and stuff.” Brown also referred to the souvenirs in gold jersey The Ohio State players were awarded last season for sweeping Michigan, apparently having seen mentions about it on Twitter by the Buckeyes ahead of Sunday’s game.
“It motivated us even more,” said Brown. “It really motivated me.”
Once the game started, Brown was on fire and fired. He drained three 3 points on the bench in five minutes in the first half. He had a few words for the Ohio State bench after the last two, forcing the umpires to stop play momentarily.
“When I was shooting they would say a few words and things like that,” Brown said. “But I just like these types of games.”
Brown finished with 15 points and affected the game with his aggressive defense and rebounds.
With 7:51 to go and Michigan leading by two points, Brooks (17 points) appeared to graze Duane Washington Jr.’s eye as he searched for the ball. Washington’s call for an arbitrator to stop the action was granted. It’s unclear if that’s what upset Howard, but he went to halfway to protest. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann did the same.
Howard said he and Holtmann weren’t arguing, but with referees. If there was a replay review, nothing came of it, and Washington stayed in the game.
Michigan freshman Hunter Dickinson (22 points, nine rebounds) summed up his first experience with the rivalry this way: “I could tell they didn’t like us and we sure didn’t like them either.”
The Wolverines have remained in balance throughout. Howard said his team had faced pressure and adversity on and off the pitch this year, noting the recent COVID-related hiatus from the program. Ohio state hit many big shots on Sunday, but Michigan has always had a response.
“During these games, when there are some tough stretches, when we go through a scoring drought or we can return the ball or a team gets an offensive rebound, our guys always understand and stay the course,” said Howard. “I was so impressed with their mental toughness.”
By Sunday, Michigan’s seniors had won in every Big Ten city except Columbus. They were aware of their recent fights at Value City Arena. “This is something we wanted to change,” Brooks said. “And it started today. This is what motivated us the most.
All the other things, like the videos the Wolverines watched before the game, maybe Howard knew what buttons to press with his team.
“It was like the Michael Jordan approach,” Dickinson said. “Any little thing that can motivate you a little more helps. “