Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Caris LeVert posted 17 points with a game-high eight rebounds to lead eighth-ranked Michigan into the Big Ten Championship with a 72-69 takedown of rival No. 24 Ohio State on Saturday.
Nik Stauskas netted 18 and Glenn Robinson III scored 11 for Michigan (25-7), which has won seven straight. Jordan Morgan and Derrick Walton Jr. had eight points and five boards apiece for the Wolverines, who will take on Michigan State in Sunday's finals.
"I feel so fortunate right now," said Michigan head coach John Beilein. "You look at so many of our games down the stretch here, they've ended just like this and the ball keeps bouncing our way."
LaQuinton Ross paced OSU (25-9) with 19 points in the setback, while Shannon Scott tallied 18 points, six assists and five boards.
The Buckeyes had won all six previous meetings in the Big Ten Tournament between the two schools.
Stauskas' first look at the basket, a wide open triple from the top of the key that hit nothing but nylon, sparked a string of three straight 3-pointers for the Wolverines. Robinson and LeVert also hit from deep and OSU mustered just an Aaron Craft pull-up jumper during the opening segment.
Morgan's two-handed slam from Stauskas capped a 15-2 run to start the game.
The Buckeyes ran off nine straight late in the stanza to draw within six points, 37-31, at 3:06. An acrobatic layup by Walton and a Morgan lay-in had it back to 10 with just over two minutes to play, but Ohio State scored the final six points of the half and trailed just 41-37 at intermission.
"Kind of dug ourselves into a hole again," said Scott, eluding to Ohio State's 18-point deficit before rallying to top Nebraska on Friday. "I feel like as a team when our head's underwater, we start fighting more, and we started doing that again today."
The second half started much like the first, with Stauskas hitting a pair of outside shots during a 9-2 UM surge.
The Buckeyes trimmed the deficit under single digits and gradually fought back, with Ross and Scott doing most of the heavy lifting. After the duo combined for nine straight OSU points, Sam Thompson gave Ohio State its first lead with an alley-oop slam from Scott with 7:58 left.
Neither team led by more than three the rest of the way. Michigan took the lead for the final time on a pair of Robinson free throws with 2:55 remaining, and after Craft missed two foul shots, Stauskas made it 71-68 with a reverse layup that hit every part of the rim before falling through.
LeVert made the play of the game for Michigan, securing an offensive rebound with just under 10 seconds left after Stauskas' isolation 3-ball missed off the front rim. LeVert got the ball to Spike Albrecht, who hit 1-of-2 at the line.
"I'm actually not supposed to offensive rebound at all," admitted LeVert. "I'm supposed to just get back on the play. But I noticed the whole game they weren't really boxing me out ... so I knew I could go get the rebound."
Off the missed second attempt, Craft pushed it the length of the floor but lost control of the ball as he rose up for a potential game-tying 3-pointer. Stauskas corralled the loose ball and ran out the remaining time.