Buckeyes Edge Badgers To Clinch Outright Title

By Chris Lauderback on February 25, 2007 at 10:27p
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Was that a heavyweight fight or a basketball game? In a contest that featured stomach turning injuries, tough defense and hard fouls, OSU closed with a 7-2 run over the final 3:42 to earn a 49-48 victory and a second straight outright Big11Ten conference championship. Mike Conley’s driving runner with 3.9 seconds remaining gave OSU the one point lead and Ron Lewis preserved it blocking Kammron Taylor’s off-balance running 15 foot jumper as time expired.

Conley’s winner came after Wisconsin took a 48-47 lead on an Alando Tucker layup with :54 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Ron Lewis had his shot blocked forcing OSU to foul Taylor with 20 seconds left. Fortunately, he clanked the front end of the 1-and-1 setting up Conley’s winner.

Ivan Harris had a big Senior Day leading OSU with 13 points while Conley and Greg Oden scored 11 apiece. If this was Oden’s last home game, it will not be remembered as one of his best. The big guy appeared to wear down as the Badgers took turns mauling him in the post. The physical defense and his sloppy footwork led to a season high 5 turnovers and only 5 rebounds (0 off). I really do not see how anyone can deny that Oden needs a second season in college to work on his offensive skills. Developing a mean streak would also pay huge dividends at the next level. Look, I know he is worthy of the #1 pick whenever he joins The League but if he wants to be a dominating player at both ends of the floor in the NBA from Day 1 (as he says he does) then he has no choice but to return. But I digress…

The Wisconsin cause was hampered by injuries, Tucker’s foul trouble and a stingy OSU defense that held the Badgers to 35% from the field and 29% (5/17) from beyond the arc. Tucker came in averaging 20 points but was held to 12 on 5-15 shooting, his lowest total in a conference game this season. Center Brian Butch suffered what I can only assume was an elbow dislocation during a nasty fall in the first half producing a TV replay that I never want to see again. I can safely say I would’ve begged the trainer to put me down if in that same predicament. Point guard Michael Flowers also missed some time with a twisted ankle suffered in a tangle with Jamar Butler.

The win will finally cement OSU as the #1 team in both polls and should lock up a #1 seed in the Big Dance as long as the Buckeyes beat Michigan saturday followed by at least one win in the conference tourney. It hasn’t always been pretty but props to Coach Matta for winning consecutive outright conference championships.

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