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01/13/2013 7:12 PM EST
Thomas has 20, OSU hands Michigan 1st loss, 56-53
OHIO ST 56, MICHIGAN 53

By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A ball that rattled around the rim and
bounced out separated Michigan from its first No. 1 ranking in
more than 20 years. Point guard Trey Burke's stepback jumper
with 17 seconds went down, then came out, leaving No. 2 Michigan
on the wrong side of a 56-53 loss to rival and 15th-ranked Ohio
State on Sunday.



After No. 1 Duke lost to North Carolina State a day earlier, the
Wolverines were in prime position to ascend to No. 1 for the
first time since November 1992. Instead, they went home with
their first loss, also depriving them of the best start in
school history.



"Some go in and some don't," said Burke, a sophomore who just
happens to be from Columbus and is friends with several of the
Buckeyes. "I thought it was going in. It looked good. I think it
went in and then came out."



Michigan (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten) trailed 52-50 and had the ball as
the seconds sifted away. Everyone in a hoarse, capacity crowd of
18,809 knew that Burke, a star at Columbus' Northland High
School where he was a teammate of former Buckeye Jared
Sullinger, would likely take the last shot.



Aaron Craft - whom Michigan coach John Beilein said was as good
as any defender he had ever seen - prevented Burke from driving.
His path blocked, Burke jumped back and then launched the shot.



"We were up two, so that makes it a little more challenging for
me," said Craft, selected as the Big Ten's top defender a year
ago. "Fortunately enough for me, that shot he took rimmed in and
out. I kind of turned around (and saw) we grabbed the rebound."



Lenzelle Smith Jr. grabbed the rebound. A moment later he was
fouled again and hit two free throws for breathing room. Craft,
who had struggled on offense most of the season, then made two
more foul shots to more than offset Burke's circus 3-pointer
with a second left.



The Buckeyes had done most of their offensive damage early,
following Burke's opening 3-pointer with a 16-0 run that was
started and ended with baskets by Deshaun Thomas, who led the
Buckeyes (13-3, 3-1) with 20 points. From there on, it was just
a matter of whether Ohio State - which had blown a late lead at
Duke in November - could hold off the Wolverines, who came in
averaging 81 points a game with four starters in double figures.



Burke led Michigan, which was trying to exceed the 16-0 start of
the 1985-86 team, with 15 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12.
Down 21 points in the first half, Michigan kept chipping away.



The Wolverines switched defenses, causing the Buckeyes problems
with matchup zones. Eventually, Glenn Robinson III flipped in a
3-pointer from the right wing to tie it at 46 with just under 6
minutes left.



The Buckeyes regained some momentum when Shannon Scott fed post
player Evan Ravenel for a dunk to regain the lead. On the next
possession, Ohio State went inside again and Ravenel, averaging
6.3 points a game, bulled his way for another basket.



After another Michigan missed shot, Thomas took a pass on the
left baseline and made a quick spin to the end line before
banking in a shot for a 52-46 lead.



The Wolverines missed six straight field goal attempts down the
stretch, going scoreless for more than 4 minutes until Burke hit
two free throws with 1:37 left to cut the lead to 52-48.



A steal and dunk by Robinson made it 52-50 with 1:16 left,
setting up the potential tying shot by Burke, who grew up a
rabid fan of the Buckeyes but wasn't recruited by coach Thad
Matta because he already had Craft and was close to signing
Scott to play point.



"He got a heck of a look at it," Matta said of Burke's shot.



The Buckeyes have been at their best against their worst
opponents, and vice versa. They came into the game 12-0 vs.
unranked teams and 0-3 against those in the Top 25. But after
what even the players called an up-and-down season, they came up
especially big against their most heated opponent.



After Craft had discounted the possibility that the Buckeyes
drew any extra incentive by wanting to prevent their archrivals
from taking over the top spot in the polls, Ravenel spoke up.



"There's always satisfaction in denying Michigan the No. 1 spot
in the country," he said with a wide grin.



---



Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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