Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ohio State vs. Xavier: Senior saves Buckeyes from losing second-round grudge match

Ohio State thought Greg Oden was its best shot at a national championship. Turns out it was Ron Lewis, and in the nick of time.

Lewis hit a long-range 3-pointer with two seconds left to force overtime, and the top-seeded Buckeyes rallied from a late 11-point deficit to beat Xavier 78-71 Saturday in a second-round South Regional game.

Ohio State trailed 55-44 with 7½minutes left, and was still down 59-50 with 3:49 left. When Oden fouled out with a hard shove after the Buckeyes kept missing in the last 10 seconds, they looked lost.

Xavier made of one of two foul shots, giving Ohio State its last chance. Lewis came down and, with two defenders flying at him, swished the tying 3-pointer.

With Oden on the bench, fellow freshman -- and high school teammate -- Mike Conley Jr. took over. He scored 11 points in overtime and the Buckeyes (32-3) were never threatened again in winning their 19th straight game.

The Buckeyes, who finished No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since they went to the Final Four in 1999. Xavier (25-9) was unranked in the final AP poll.

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