Just another night in the Big Ten.
The No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 3 Michigan Wolverines fought it out in a thrilling, back-and-forth, game of the year candidate on Tuesday night, but Michigan escaped with the 76-74 overtime win to get revenge on a loss from earlier in the season.
The Wolverines, who were led by Tim Hardaway, Jr.'s 23 points and Trey Burke's 16 points and eight assists, now sit at 8-2 in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, got 17 points from Deshaun Thomas, 16 points from LaQuinton Ross and 11 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one of the best defensive performances of the season by Aaron Craft, but dropped to 7-3 in Big Ten play.
When the Buckeyes get production from their secondary options on offense, they are incredibly tough to beat, and they proved that in the first half.
Preseason All-American Thomas—who can put the team on his back on any given night—had just seven first-half points, but he was assisted by the raw but talented Ross (seven points) and high-flying Sam Thompson (five points) to help the Buckeyes shoot 50 percent from the field and climb to a 31-30 lead.
Hard-working true freshman Mitch McGary had 10 points, five rebounds and two steals in the first half to pace Michigan, which cooled considerably after a hot-shooting start.
Back and forth.
Early on, Craft and Shannon Scott slowed down Trey Burke and the Buckeyes got more all-around production on the offensive end, and it appeared Ohio State might pull away on the road as it jumped out to a seven-point lead.
But then Michigan reminded us that it has the third-most efficient offense in America. Glenn Robinson III got a three-point play and Hardaway Jr. knocked down four straight long balls to quickly even things up.
After both teams seemingly switched baskets for the next scintillating, world-class, brilliantly played 10 minutes, Burke settled for a three-pointer as time expired, but it rimmed off, sending the game to overtime.
Both offenses cooled considerably, and a Burke three-pointer over tight defense from Craft at the beginning of the period turned out to be the difference.
Craft and Burke continued to go at each other throughout the entire five minutes, each stripping the other at key moments, but it was Burke and Hardaway who both got the last laugh with blocks of Craft in the final seconds.
Early on, Sam Thompson showcased a little bit of what he does best: Slam (via Diehardsport.com's Alex Friedman; click on the link in the tweet for the .gif):
ANIMATION: Slam Thompson. twitpic.com/c18j6b— Alex Friedman (@Diehardsport) February 6, 2013
I'm not sure there's a more appropriate nickname in college basketball.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports' Matt Norlander, who was in fine form as always, had a roundabout way of criticizing Michigan's all bright-yellow uniforms:
I haven't hated the color yellow this much since Coldplay's #debutalbum— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) February 6, 2013
My eyes weren't huge fans, either.
With Michigan trailing by one at half, Grantland's Shane Ryan laid out the stakes for the Wolverines:
We're going to learn a lot about Michigan in the second half. Final Four teams don't lose this kind of game at home.— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) February 6, 2013
I guess they're still a Final Four team.
After a second-half possession in which Aaron Craft locked up Burke, Nik Stauskas and Hardaway Jr. all on the same possession (and got the steal), CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman posed this intriguing question:
Better perimeter defender: Craft or Oladipo?Too tough to call.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) February 6, 2013
I'll take both, thank you.
The Sporting News' Michael DeCourcy noted not only how impressive Hardaway's mid-second half hot streak was, but crucial, too:
Tim Hardaway has now hit four in a row from deep, and every one was essential to keeping Mich in tight game— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) February 6, 2013
ESPN's Reggie Rankin summed up Craft's pest-like defense:
Aaron Craft is like an old tight pair of underware. He just makes you uncomfortable in every area when he is defending you.— Reggie Rankin (@ReggieRankin) February 6, 2013
Couldn't have said it better (or more weirdly) myself.
On the last play of regulation, Burke questionably settled for a three-pointer when he got Deshaun Thomas on him, but most weren't angry with his decision because it meant this (via College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster):
I ain't complaining about five more minutes of this.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) February 6, 2013
As always tends to happen, those five minutes weren't quite as entertaining as the first amazing 40. But they were close.
Finally, the entire game can pretty much be summed up by this (via USA TODAY's Nicole Auerbach):
BURKE-CRAFT. BURKE-CRAFT. BURKE-CRAFT. BURKE-CRAFT. 1-on-1 plz.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 6, 2013
Two more matchups, please?