Bobcats star haunts Wolverines


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Walter Offutt got a taste for what it was like to beat Michigan while he was at Ohio State. Clinching an upset win for Ohio over the Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament is just a bit sweeter.

Offutt, who ended up at Ohio by way of Wright State, grabbed a loose ball, was fouled by Evan Smotrycz and sank both of his free throws with 6.8 seconds left to preserve Ohio's 65-60 upset of Michigan on Friday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional.

"It's been an amazing journey," Offutt said. "Probably the best thing that ever happened in my life."

The No. 13 Bobcats have had quite the season, winning the Mid-American Conference tournament and a program-record 28 victories. There's still time for more great things, starting with a game against South Florida on Sunday.

"We're playing our best basketball of the year, no doubt about that," said Ohio coach John Groce, whose 2009-10 Bobcats squad upset third-seeded Georgetown.

Ohio had the Wolverines on their heels throughout the game, but Michigan's Trey Burke hit a 3 with 4:12 left to cut it to 63-60. But the Wolverines missed their final five shots, including four by the freshman Burke.

"We were really emphasizing (that) this doesn't have to be a 3-point game," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Could we have gotten more open (shots)? Well, time would have told, but those were the choices he made, and we live with them."

On Burke's third miss, fourth-seeded Michigan (24-10) got the rebound but Smotrycz lost control of the ball in front of the Wolverines bench, and Offutt grabbed it.

Ohio shot 51.2 percent and held Michigan to 40.7 percent shooting, including 7 for 23 from 3-point range, typically the Wolverines' comfort zone. The Bobcats entered the tourney ranked 13th in the nation in 3-point defense, with opponents shooting just 29.6 percent against them.

"I thought our ability to defend the 3 was going to be critical coming into the game," Groce said.

D.J. Cooper led the Bobcats with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Offutt scored 11 points, and Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely both added 10.

Burke scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half. Smotrycz scored 15 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14.

The teams traded the lead three times and were tied a fourth time when Baltic spun around in the lane and hit a jumper that launched a 15-2 run for Ohio. Nick Kellogg was left open and sank a 3-pointer that made it 35-22 with 2:49 in the first half.

The Bobcats smothered the Wildcats often deadly perimeter shooting and dared them to go inside. Even though Michigan was the smaller of the two teams, it outscored Ohio in the paint 16-12 in the first half.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.