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Published: 3/9/2007

Oden leads Buckeyes to 72-62 win over Michigan

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO Greg Oden showed he s more than a shot swatter and a rebounder. He can take control with an assortment of offensive moves, too.

Oden scored 22 points 15 in the second half and No. 1 Ohio State won its 15th straight game, beating Michigan 72-62 today in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Oden, who hasn t decided if his freshman season will be his only one with the Buckeyes before heading to the NBA, scored 11 of his points in the final 8:27 after Michigan had pulled to within four.

Ohio State (28-3) hasn t lost in two months a defeat Jan. 9 at Wisconsin.

The 7-foot Oden was 8-for-12 from the field and 6-for-10 from the free throw line to go with eight rebounds and four blocks.

It was Ohio State s third win in as many tries this season against Michigan (21-12), which is hoping to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. Just six days earlier in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes rallied from a late six-point deficit by holding the Wolverines scoreless for the final 4 minutes.

Ron Lewis added 16 points and Mike Conley Jr. had 13 for the Buckeyes. Lester Abram scored 13 and Jerret Smith 12 for the Wolverines. Leading scorer Dion Harris managed just nine on 1-for-13 shooting.

The Wolverines made it a four-point game when Harris hit two free throws after a technical foul on Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who was angry over a no-foul call.

When Michigan s 6-11 Courtney Sims picked up his fourth foul and had to go the bench, the Buckeyes went right to Oden for a basket. But Abram connected on a 3-pointer with 7:47 remaining and the Wolverines were within 52-49.

Then Oden went to work again.

He used his two-inch height and 40-pound weight advantage over Ekpe Udoh to back his way in for another basket and a three-point play to make it 55-49. After a Michigan turnover, Oden made a nice reverse layup and the lead was back to eight just that quickly.

Fellow freshman Conley hit a 3-pointer from the corner and then made a nice pass to Othello Hunter for a slam and the Buckeyes were in charge with an 11-point cushion with just under 5 minutes left.

Ohio State played some tough defense, especially in the second half when Michigan made only 8 of 31 field goal attempts. The Wolverines finished at 33 percent for the game.

Brent Petway had 12 of Michigan s rebounds, where the Wolverines held a big 47-25 advantage, including 22-6 on the offensive boards. But that wasn t enough for victory. And now Michigan and coach Tommy Amaker will have to wait nervously for Sunday to see if they re in or headed to the NIT.

Ohio State, with a deep bench, shot 46 percent for the game and spent much of the second half trying to feed the ball to Oden, who had two fouls in the first half.

He nearly got a third early in the second half as he battled Sims on the glass after blocking his shot.

Minutes later Oden banked in a shot and then OSU s Ivan Harris used the glass for another basket and the Buckeyes had a 10-point lead with 16 minutes to go. But Abram and Smith made 3-pointers and the Wolverines chopped the lead back to five.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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