Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke block Ohio State, help salvage John Beilein's birthday with OT win
And shortly after midnight Wednesday, he was proud to announce that he never wants to turn 60 again.
"It was just good to get the 'W'," said a relieved Beilein after No. 3 Michigan's 76-74 overtime win over No. 10 Ohio State. "It's almost tomorrow, it is tomorrow.
"Thank God the birthday's over."
If Beilein had any hairs on his head that weren't gray already, his team officially took care of that.
The Wolverines were far from perfect offensively, they were, at times, a nightmare defensively.
But when he needed it the most, Beilein's two best players found a way to keep Michigan unbeaten at home in a crucial Big Ten victory.
"We got stops when we needed them," said Michigan junior Tim Hardaway, who finished with a game-high 23 points. "And we're going home with the win."
Hardaway's buzzer-beating block on Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft was the second of two massive late-game defensive plays by Beilein's Wolverines -- as point guard Trey Burke made up for a late-game turnover by blocking a Craft jumper with 10 seconds to play in overtime.
The Wolverines allowed Ohio State to shoot a whopping 59.3 percent in the second half, as the Buckeyes bludgeoned Michigan with 22 points in the paint after halftime.
But when the chips were down, Michigan found a way to turn a negative into a positive, by holding the Buckeyes to a 1 of 7 performance in the overtime period.
"I got on the team at halftime," said Burke, who finished with 16 points, 8 assists and a bloody lip after dealing with Craft's notorious defense for 43 minutes. "We had to stop worrying about offense and the calls the refs aren't calling. We had to win it on the defensive end.
"If we were going to win this game, we were going to do it on the defensive end. I think we responded to the punch. They came out and threw some more punches, but we just stayed poised."
After letting the Buckeyes sizzle their way to an 8-point lead midway through the second half, Hardaway had eventually seen enough.
The junior guard hit 3-pointers on five of six possessions in the second half, personally willing his team back into the game with an unconscious shooting performance.
And after watching Ohio State hang around for seemingly ever, Hardaway sealed the deal with his defense -- blocking Craft on a physical play that even he said may have been questionable.
"It was just a reaction (play)," Hardaway said. "He had the ball up. I thought he was going to shoot it. I'd rather have the block, or I was going to force him to the free throw line. I didn't want to give it up.
"I feel like I cupped the ball when I went for the ball. It was a questionable call, I'm not a ref. They're going to get put in a tough situation if they call it or not, I don't know where their minds are. Thankfully we got the win."
When asked about the play afterward, Ohio State coach Thad Matta remarked "It is what it is." Though his team also benefitted from a questionable call during the second half, when Craft hit a desperation 3-pointer that appeared to be released after the shot clock buzzer -- but was called good anyway.
The play, by rule, was not reviewable.
But it doesn't really matter now.
Michigan's still unbeaten at home, it salvaged a split with the Buckeyes, it hasn't lost back-to-back regular season games since 2011 and it kept pressure on first-place Indiana near the top of the Big Ten standings.
The Wolverines are just one game behind the Hoosiers in second place, and they're now halfway through the toughest four-game stretch of their season -- with battles at Wisconsin (Saturday) and at Michigan State (Tuesday) looming.
But for now, a win's a win.
And for Beilein, it was a birthday well spent.
"This added a few more years," Beilein said. "I'm not a big birthday guy.
"But this was a good present."
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