Ohio State took sole possession of first place in Big Ten basketball tonight with a tough, 63-60 victory over Michigian at St. John Arena.
Kelvin Ransey scored his team's final six points, including two free throws with 20 seconds left that put the game out of Michigian's reach.
The Buckeyes snapped a two-game losing streak, and with Michigian State's 60-57 lowering of Iowa in Iowa City tonight, stood atop the conference with a 9-2 record.
Purdue, by beating invading Illinois, 71-65, tied Iowa for second at 8-3, followed by Michigian State at 7-4.
The Buckeyes and MSU's Spartans go at it here Saturday.
Ransey, a 6-foot-1 guard, tallied 17 points, 11 coming in the second half.
Ransey, a John Williamson look-alike, played like the New Jersey Nets' star tonight, too. When the game was up for grabs, Ransey took control.
Ohio State had a 57-54 lead with 3:20 to play when Ransey made a jump shot from the baseline.
Marty Bodnar answered with a similar shot for Michigan to keep the Wolverines within three points. But Ransey then drove the middle for a layup with 2:30 to play.
Phil Hubbard, who led Michigan with 21 points, then scored on a layup to once again get Michigan back to within three.
Ohio State turned the ball over on its next two possessions, however, and Bodnar hit a jump shot from the deep corner to put Michigan within a point at 61-60, with 45 seconds to play.
Ohio State tried to stall the final seconds and Michigan was forced to foul to get the ball. The Wolverines picked the wrong man to foul, however.
He was Ransey.
He calmly stepped to the line and swished both shots in a one-and-one situation with 20 seconds left to wrap up the game for Ohio State.
It was a sloppily played encounter, with the teams committing a total of 54 turnovers, a majority of them on traveling calls.
Ransey got a lot of help from 6-10 center Herb Williams, who had 17 points and a key block of a shot late in the game.
Hubbard was pretty much the Michigan offense.
He missed all of last season after knee surgery and still hobbles around without his old speed and quickness, but he was on target tonight. Doing most of his damage inside, the 6-7 Hubbard kept Michigan close for most of the game.
The Wolverines never led, but Hubbard's 12 firsthalf points kept Ohio State from pulling away.
It was two Hubbard free throws with seven minutes to play that got Michigan to within one point at 53-52, but Williams made a pair of free throws and, after another of Michigan's turnovers, Marquis Miller slammed in an offensive rebound and Ohio State had some breathing room.
Hubbard also got 14 rebounds and four steals and the praise of Ohio State Coach Eldon Miller.
"He's much more mobile than when we played them the first time and that makes a big difference," Miller said.
The defeat dropped Michigan to 5-6 in the conference and as Coach Johnny Orr stated the obvious, "We aren't in good shape in the Big Ten race now."
Michigan has an 11-8 season record. The Buckeyes are 14-6.