Hunter Dickson, No. 3 Michigan Hold off No. 4 Ohio State for Win in Rivalry Game

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2021

Michigan's Hunter Dickinson, left, posts up against Ohio State's E.J. Liddell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

No. 3 Michigan staked its claim for a No. 1 seed Sunday with a 92-87 win over No. 4 Ohio State.

A classic rivalry had higher stakes than usual with both teams ranked inside the top five for the first time ever, making this a potential Final Four preview as well.

The matchup lived up to expectations with quality play on both ends:  

The teams battled to a 45-43 score in the first half and neither team led by more than two possessions until the final minute of the game.

It was the Wolverines (16-1) that eventually came out on top behind 22 points and nine rebounds from Hunter Dickson, helping his squad win in Value City Arena for the first time since 2014. Isaiah Livers capitalized on a late Ohio State mistake that helped the visitors pull away for a win.

Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 30 for the Buckeyes (18-5), which suffered their first loss since Jan. 19 after seven straight wins.


Notable Performances

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Hunter Dickinson, C, MICH: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks

Isaiah Livers, F, MICH: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists

Eli Brooks, G, MICH: 17 points, 3-of-4 from 3

E.J. Liddell, F, OSU: 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists

Duane Washington Jr., G, OSU: 30 points, 12-of-18 from field

C.J. Walker, G, OSU: 15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds


Hunter Dickinson Leads Efficient Michigan Attack

Much of the game was an offensive clinic from Michigan, which moved the ball well to create easy looks throughout the day.

The first half was especially impressive, scoring 45 points with 12 assists on 17 field goals with quality passing leading the way.

The Wolverines shot 10 of 13 from deep in the first half, with Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks among the four players with multiple three-pointers.

This shooting slowed in the second half, but it at least opened up the middle of the floor. This gave Dickinson room to operate and dominate in the post.

The center was nearly impossible to stop in the second half, getting five offensive rebounds while showcasing his ability to finish with force.

Dickinson finished with 22 points, but it was a balanced attack overall with six of the eight players who saw game action finished with at least nine points. With 19 assists and just seven turnovers, this was a difficult team to defend.

Between the elite outside shooting and the bruising play in the post, the Wolverines will remain a tough offense to stop.


Washington and Liddell Not Enough for Ohio State

Both teams were trying to send a message early in this game, and it was Duane Washington Jr. who did his part for Ohio State early.

The guard reached double digits in a flash to give the Buckeyes an early five-point lead.

Michigan's hot shooting put the visitors ahead and would have been enough to pull away against most opponents, but EJ Liddell helped Ohio State keep the halftime deficit at two.

Liddell and Washington had more than half of Ohio State's points in the first half and finished with a combined 53 of 87 points for the squad.

These players became the go-to options nearly every time down the court in the second half, and they came through with tough makes as the game progressed.

The rest of the roster didn't provide enough to pull out a win, but these two players will be able to carry the Buckeyes to a lot of success going forward.


What's Next?

Both teams will be off until Thursday, with Michigan having another tough game at home against No. 11 Iowa. Ohio State travels to face Michigan State.