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No. 1 stuff for Buckeyes

March 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — The "one more year!" chants that Greg Oden did his best to ignore were back, and so was another big victory for his Ohio State team.

This time the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes put away the Big Ten Conference tournament final with a 66-49 victory over No. 3 Wisconsin here at the United Center.

The last time Oden heard the fans' pleas was on Feb. 25, after the Buckeyes had clinched the regular-season Big Ten championship with a 49-48 victory over the then-No. 1 Badgers at Columbus, Ohio.

Time will tell whether the 7-foot freshman grants the fans their wish or answers the call of the NBA, but his mind was on other things after Sunday's victory.

Like the NCAA tournament, where the Buckeyes secured a No. 1 seeding in the South Regional and will play Central Connecticut State on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

"I'm ready for it," Oden said of the tournament and added that he hadn't "even thought about" whether he will return for another year of college basketball.

On Sunday, Oden wasn't at his best, but Mike Conley's 18 points and Ron Lewis' 17 picked up the slack.

Oden, who will have finals in sociology and the history of rock 'n' roll this week, finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks after playing only six minutes in the first half and 22 minutes total.

Conley added eight assists and six rebounds, and Lewis made six of 12 shots as the Buckeyes (30-3) gained their 17th consecutive victory.

Big Ten player of the year Alando Tucker missed his first six shots for Wisconsin and finished with 10 points. Kammron Taylor scored 15 points, but made only six of 18 shots. The Badgers (29-5) never found their outside range, going four for 23 on three-point shots and committing 17 turnovers.

With the score 48-40, Ohio State's Jamar Butler retrieved a loose ball near midcourt after having it knocked away and made a three-pointer from beyond NBA range with about three seconds left on the shot clock and 6:35 remaining in the game. Lewis all but punctuated the victory two minutes later with a breakaway dunk after catching a long pass from Conley. That made it 57-45.

"They have a lot of athletes on that team, and they like to get up and down," Taylor said. "I think the first two times that we played them, we kind of controlled that. Today, we allowed them to get out and get on a break, and it caught up with us."

Added Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan: "I think what happened was the quickness of Conley with the ball and Oden being such a presence inside."

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