Ohio State Wins 2007 Big Ten Tournament Championship
March 11, 2007
CHICAGO (AP) -Ohio State won the Big Ten tournament. Now, the No. 1 Buckeyes can focus on the big prize.
Mike Conley scored 18 points, Ron Lewis added 17, and the Buckeyes beat No. 3 Wisconsin 66-49 Sunday to win their second tournament title.
The Buckeyes then learned they have the top seed in the South regional and will face Central Connecticut State on Thursday in Lexington, Ky. Wisconsin got the second seed in the Midwest and a matchup with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday at the United Center.
Greg Oden finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks after playing just 6 minutes in the first half against the Badgers, but Conley and Lewis did enough to lift Ohio State (30-3) to its 17th straight victory. Conley had eight assists and six rebounds, and Lewis was 6-for-12, including 2-for-4 on 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, Buckeyes fans serenaded Oden with a "One more year!" chant during the postgame ceremony. The freshman phenom hasn't said whether he will enter the NBA draft.
Big Ten player of the year Alando Tucker missed his first six shots for Wisconsin and finished with 10 points. He was 4-of-13 from the field. Kammron Taylor scored 15 points, but was just 6-for-18. The Badgers (29-5) never found their stroke, going 21-for-57 overall and 4-for-23 on 3-pointers. They also committed 17 turnovers.
The Buckeyes and Badgers will be among the favorites to win the NCAA tournament. They split two nail-biters during the regular season, but this time the drama ended with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
With the score 48-40, Ohio State's Jamar Butler retrieved a loose ball near midcourt after having it knocked away and buried a 3-pointer from beyond NBA range with about 3 seconds left on the shot clock and 6:35 remaining in the game. Ron Lewis all but punctuated the victory 2 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, and we let it get away from us. Today, we allowed them to get out and get on a break, and it caught up with us."
The Badgers were unable to sustain a run.
Down 34-23 early in the second half, Wisconsin scored six straight. Taylor's pull-up jumper drew a loud reaction from the large contingent of Badgers fans, and the volume increased when Marcus Landry dunked in transition to cut it to 34-29. Ohio State called time, and the Wisconsin faithful chanted, "Let's go red!"
Instead, they stalled.
There were no late runs, no theatrics, unlike the first two meetings between these teams. Wisconsin hung on for a 72-69 victory Jan. 9 in Madison as Butler missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Buckeyes returned the favor Feb. 25 in Columbus, winning on Conley's runner in the lane with 4 seconds left to clinch their second straight regular-season conference title.
This time, Wisconsin was fortunate to stay within striking range until the latter stages.
"I think what happened was the quickness of Conley with the ball and Oden being such a presence inside, there's two pretty big factors of why things turned out the way they did," coach Bo Ryan said.
The Badgers trailed 26-20 at halftime, but it could have been much worse as they went 7 minutes without a point early on, hit just nine of 27 shots, and committed 12 turnovers.
It helped that Oden, the Buckeyes' star, spent most of the half on the sideline and did not attempt a shot.
After averaging 19.5 points and 13.5 points in the first two tournament games, he got called for a charge just over a minute into this one and went to the sideline about 3 minutes later after hitting the floor while going for an offensive rebound. He re-entered the game midway through the half, but spent the final 7:03 on the sideline after picking up his second foul.
Tucker finally got going after Conley hit a 3-pointer that stretched Ohio State's lead to 21-11 with just over 4 minutes left in the half, converting two quick putbacks and hitting one of two free throws. He scored on a layup with 34 seconds left, giving him seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.