Asked what bothered him most about his team's most recent defeat, it didn't take long for the words to come out of Aaron Craft's mouth.
"It's the offensive rebounds," Craft said in the moments following Michigan's 70-60 win over Ohio State. "We've done a pretty good job of that the last few games and for some reason we didn't do it tonight. They got them when they needed it and they converted."
The No. 15 Wolverines (18-6, 10-2) outmanned the No. 22 Buckeyes (19-6, 6-6) on the boards, pulling down 39 rebounds compared to OSU's 27. Fourteen of Michigan's rebounds came on the Wolverines' offensive end of the floor, with U-M scoring 11 second chance points in its first win in Columbus since 2003.
"At the end of the day, they just wanted it more, man," Buckeyes forward LaQuinton Ross said of the Wolverines. "We missed a lot of box outs. We knew coming into the game that they were going to try to offensive rebound. They not that big of a team so we can't blame it on that. We matched up pretty well. I just think that at the end of the day, they wanted it more."
In particular, Michigan looked like the tougher team down the stretch in Columbus, outscoring the Buckeyes by a margin of 19-10 in the game's final 6:24. An 8-0 run that lasted the course of more than a minute pushed the Wolverines' advantage from four to 12, and Ohio State never got any closer than eight points within its conference rival in the game's final 1:22.
Ultimately, the Buckeyes trailed for the game's final 10:56 of action, but didn't find themselves out of hope until a three-pointer and pair of free throws from Glenn Robinson III sandwiched three makes from the charity stripe for Derrick Walton Jr. in the game's final two minutes.
"We didn't have the execution we needed," OSU coach Thad Matta said. "We missed what I consider some pretty good shots and we backed off a little bit. We weren't in attack mode probably as much as we needed to be."
Aggression didn't appear to be an issue for the Buckeyes in the game's opening 17 minutes, as OSU built a 28-18 lead thanks to an efficient offensive outing that included an 8-0 run and 11 points from Ross. Michigan roared back, using an 8-0 of its own to cut the Buckeyes' advantage to two, before a pair of Ross free throws gave OSU a 30-26 lead heading into halftime.
Opening the half on a 7-2 run as a Lenzelle Smith Jr. three split a pair of Ross free throws and a jumper, Ohio State appeared poise to regain control of the game as it pushed its lead back to eight. That, however, would ultimately prove to be the best standing that the Buckeyes would find themselves in for the remainder of the game.
The Wolverines cut Ohio State's lead to four on a Jon Horford dunk before a Craft layup pushed the Buckeyes advantage back to six. From there, Michigan reeled off a 12-0 run, taking a a 49-43 lead with 9:19 remaining that the Wolverines wouldn't ever look back from.
"Today, we weren't the tougher basketball team down the stretch," Craft said. "That hurts."
Ross led the Buckeyes with 24 points on 8-17 shooting on the night, but only Smith joined him in double-digit scoring with 13 points on 5-11 shooting and three 3-point makes. Ohio State was also hindered by a 3-of-20 shooting performance from long distance, while ultimately shooting 44.2 percent from the field.
Michigan, meanwhile, benefitted from a more balanced approach, with Nick Stauskas scoring 15 points, Walton scoring 13 and Zak Irvin scoring 10. The Wolverines made 8 of their 17 attempts from beyond the three-point arc, which helped make up for a 41.5 percent outing from the field.
Falling back to .500 in Big Ten play, the Buckeyes now sit in fifth place in the league, while Michigan claims the conference's best Big Ten record with a 10-2 mark in league play. Ohio State will return to action on Saturday, when the Buckeyes will travel to Champaign for an 8 p.m. tipoff with Illinois.
"We've got a tough group of guys," Ross said. "We've gotta look forward. We've got six games left in the Big Ten. We gotta be ready for those."