Ohio State recovers from early flagrant, beats UM

COLUMBUS – When you think of Michigan vs. Ohio State, you think of hard hitting.

But in basketball?

Evan Turner scored 14 of his 22 points as Ohio State built an 18-point first-half lead and the Buckeyes hung on to beat Michigan 72-54 last night in a chippy showdown between the rivals.

The game was held up for several minutes near the finish after Michigan’s Zack Novak elbowed Ohio State’s P.J. Hill in the face. The officials separated the players before the skirmish escalated. Novak was called for a flagrant foul and was ejected from the game.

“He got me good though,” said Hill, who said his jaw was sore from the shot. “I thought I was going to get the rebound. I had a step on him. But he gave me a step purposely so he could get me in the jaw.”

Ohio State coach Thad Matta said he didn’t see it but was pleased that the elbow didn’t erupt into something more.

“I don’t know if it was kind of like a punch or it was a high elbow,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “(Novak) was boxing out. I know there was a lot of talk going on. At the same time, my guess is that they threw him out (because) he made a mistake that he’ll learn from.”

The officials seemed as confused as anyone when play was halted after the contact. A crowd of more than 16,000 fans booed and screamed insults at Novak as he trotted off the court.

Beilein asked the officials to review the play before making the call.

“I’m the stupid idiot that told them to look at the monitor because I knew it would come back later on if there was anything,” he said. “I trust the referees that they saw it. By closer look, it looked intentional.”

Turner, who was shooting the second of two free throws at the time of Novak’s elbow, said he stepped in to try to prevent anything more from happening.

“I just thought it was kind of like a cheap shot,” he said. “I was defending my friend and my teammate. Sometimes that stuff happens and you have to handle it accordingly, so that’s what we did.”

Hill said Novak tried to hit him after the first free throw.

“The first time he tried to get me, he grabbed me and I told my coach, ‘Coach, watch,'” Hill said. “Coach was, like, ‘Don’t get involved with that.’ Then I told the ref, like, watch this. So the ref was watching for it. That’s why he called it so quick.”

Novak could not be reached for comment.

It was the second time in two weeks the Buckeyes (14-5, 4-4 Big Ten) had beaten the Wolverines (14-7, 4-5).

Jeremie Simmons matched his career high with 12 points for Ohio State, which had lost its last two games, both to ranked opponents. B.J. Mullens also had 12 points.

Manny Harris had a triple-double of sorts for Michigan, totaling 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 turnovers. DeShawn Sims added 13 points.

Michigan, leading the Big Ten in 3-pointers made, misfired on all 11 attempts in the first half while falling behind 36-18. The Wolverines didn’t make their first shot behind the arc until more than a minute was gone in the second half.

The same team that went 7 of 16 on 3-pointers in a stunning 81-73 upset of current No. 1 Duke on Dec. 6 finished 7 of 26 behind the arc and shot just 31 percent from the field. Ohio State hit 58 percent of its shots from the field.

The Buckeyes took control in the first half, shooting 59 percent from the field. That mirrored their performance just 11 days ago when they shot 54.2 percent from the field in beating the Wolverines at Crisler Arena, 65-58.

Things didn’t go well for the visitors from the very start.

Michigan had eight turnovers in the opening 7 minutes, struggling against both Ohio State’s full-court pressure and its 3-2 zone. Even when the ball did get within range of the basket, the Wolverines couldn’t make a shot. Their only field goal over the opening 9? minutes came on a goaltending call against Ohio State’s Dallas Lauderdale.

Turner, meanwhile, was aggressively taking his man to the hoop every time he touched the ball. He outscored Michigan 14-13 over the first 14 minutes.

“He was very effective. He moved well without the basketball,” Matta said. “He found the seams and then they started loading guys up and taking his drives away and he did a pretty good job of moving the ball and finding guys.”

Turner hit 6-of-9 shots from the field and 12-of-13 3-pointers, and added five rebounds and four assists.

“I just found holes and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball,” he said. “I was just aggressive. My shots went in and it was a good night – it was a good night for me and my team.”