Well, the Buckeyes finally beat a ranked opponent although it certainly didn't come easy. OSU opened the second half with a modest 13-6 run to take a 49-39 lead at the 17:02 mark then proceeded to score just 10 points over the next 14 minutes to find themselves in a 59-59 dogfight with 3:42 left in the game. After an Ivan Harris three gave OSU a slim 62-59 lead with 3:12 left, UT's Chris Lofton hit three buckets complimented by a Ramar Smith free throw while OSU could only muster three Mike Conley free throws resulting in a 66-65 deficit with 52 ticks remaining. Faced with losing to a ranked team for the fourth time this season, Ron Lewis made a three pointer from the top of the key with 14 seconds left to give Ohio State the 68-66 victory. The Vols still had a chance but Smith's shot in the lane with 4 seconds left bounced away, extending OSU's winning streak to 17 at home.
Greg Oden dominated the small Vols with a career high 24 points to go along with 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. The Vols had no answer for the big guy as he registered 6 dunks against either 6'9" Wayne Chism or 6'7" Duke Crews shooting 9-13 from the field. Oden's longtime running mate Mike Conley was also a force at the offensive end with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Ivan Harris finished with nine.
OSU controlled the glass (39-27) and held the Vols to just 22% (7/31) from downtown but allowed UT to stay in it by committing 20 turnovers, the majority against the Vols' full court press. Mike Conley had 5 turnovers and Jamar Butler 4, however some of the blame for the ridiculous lack of press-breaking falls on coach Matta. Bruce Pearl's squad repeatedly forced our inbounder to pass to a corner allowing the UT guards to trap resulting in countless turnovers leading directly to scores. Matta finally realized that putting Greg Oden at the foul line to receive a lob from the inbounder would break the press everytime as the Vols backed off the press whenever the entry pass wasn't to the corner. Don't get me wrong, I love coach Matta but keeping Oden 85 feet from the teeth of the UT press the entire first half and much of the second was a waste of resources and a definite strategical error.
Chris Lofton led Tennessee with 23 points on 10-20 shooting however he was held to just 3-11 on threes as Jamar Butler chased him around for much of the contest. Smith had 14 points and 9 rebounds while Dane Bradshaw hit for 11 of 5-8 shooting and the Vols registered 11 steals against just 8 turnovers. They've got a nice trapping full-court press, utlizing a taller player against the inbounder, but their overall lack of height was exposed in the half-court and that was the difference in this one.
All in all, the win should supply a much needed boost of confidence with OSU getting back into conference play Wednesday night at home against Northwestern. The Wildcats gave Wisconsin all they could handle today before falling 56-50 at home.