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Ohio State starts fast and cruises to victory

March 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

Greg Oden grabbed the ball off the backboard, slammed it through the net and screamed. It was the kind of powerful play that has come to symbolize the Ohio State freshman's considerable talent.

Too bad it didn't count.

A Central Connecticut State foul before the shot wiped out the dunk, one of the few times Oden and the top-seeded Buckeyes were stopped during their 78-57 win over the Blue Devils on Thursday in the opening round of the South Regional at Lexington, Ky.

Oden finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season as the Buckeyes (31-3) won their 18th straight game. Ohio State will play Xavier in the second round Saturday. Ohio State Coach Thad Matta coached at Xavier before coming to Columbus.

"The big thing was to just take my chances when I got it," Oden said. "I'm trying to play stronger. It's going to help me a lot in the long run."

Central Connecticut forward Obie Nwadike, who was giving away eight inches to 7-foot Oden, said Oden's talent surpassed the hype surrounding the Big Ten Conference freshman of the year.

"He's a lot bigger, a lot more athletic and a lot more agile than I thought he would be," Nwadike said. "He changes a lot of shots. He makes a big impact even when he doesn't have the ball because you have to find him."

Jamar Butler scored 17 points and Ron Lewis had 13 as the Buckeyes quickly dispatched the game but ultimately overmatched Blue Devils (22-12). Ohio State needed less than five minutes to build a double-digit lead and kept the pressure on well into the second half.

Javier Mojica led Central Connecticut with 19 points.

Texas A&M 68, Pennsylvania 52 -- Acie Law, known as "Captain Clutch," is perhaps the nation's best point guard. He needed plenty of help from his teammates, though, to get the Aggies past the upset-minded Quakers.

Texas A&M, seeded third in the South, got two key dunks from Joseph Jones and a game-clinching three-pointer from Dominique Kirk to defeat 14th-seeded Pennsylvania at Lexington, Ky.

Law led the Aggies (26-6) with 20 points despite making only six of 15 shots. Although the Quakers (22-9) found an answer for him in Ibrahim Jaaber, they couldn't answer Texas A&M's inside game.

Mark Zoller had 19 points to lead the Quakers, and Jaaber had 16.

Xavier 79, Brigham Young 77 -- Drew Lavender, a 5-foot-7 transfer from Oklahoma, made two floaters in the lane, then grabbed a crucial rebound and made two free throws with 11 seconds left to help the ninth-seeded Musketeers beat the eighth-seeded Cougars at Lexington, Ky.

Justin Doellman scored 23 points and Lavender finished with 17 to help Xavier (25-8) advance beyond the first round for the fourth time in its last five NCAA appearances.

Xavier trailed by as many as nine points before Lavender, Doellman and B.J. Raymond made three-pointers during a 16-3 run that turned a 52-44 deficit into a 60-55 lead. BYU (25-9) fought back to take a 73-71 lead with 2:10 to go.

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