No. 2 Ohio State Hangs on Again

Thursday, February 22nd 2007, 6:16 am
By: News On 6

Ohio State is tired of hearing about its inability to put opponents away.

The second-ranked Buckeyes sweated out another victory over Penn State on Wednesday night, with star freshman Greg Oden limited in the offense.

``It's a pretty good issue,'' coach Thad Matta said sarcastically, before spitting out an expletive, about Oden taking nine shots. ``We're 25-3. We're doing a couple of things well here.''

That may be true, but Penn State seems to bring out the worst in Ohio State. A week after hanging on and beating the Nittany Lions 64-62, Jamar Butler scored 18 points, and Oden had 17 points and 14 rebounds to help the Buckeyes win 68-60.

The win set the stage for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Sunday when top-ranked Wisconsin, still smarting from Tuesday night's 64-55 loss at Michigan State, comes to town. The winner is assured at least a share of the Big Ten title.

``Tomorrow, we have the day off and the coaches are going to work really hard to get us prepared,'' Oden said. ``Come Friday, we are going to work as hard as we can. We don't look back. We just take this game as a new one.''

That's exactly what No. 3 Florida did against South Carolina, rebounding from its first loss in more than two months with a 63-49 victory against the Gamecocks.

Al Horford scored 20 points, Chris Richard added a season-high 14 as the Gators, whose 17-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Vanderbilt, clinched the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship _ their second outright league title and first since 1989.

``It's great, but we're greedy,'' forward Joakim Noah said. ``We want more. That's a great feeling and it's something we can't take lightly. It's about like we're supposed to do that. But we can't forget that it's special. We've won everything we can right now, but we want more.''

In other Top 25 games, it was: No. 5 North Carolina 83, North Carolina State 64; No. 8 Texas A&M 67, Oklahoma State 51; No. 12 Georgetown 75, Cincinnati 65; No. 13 Southern Illinois 58, Indiana State 50; Mississippi State 83, No. 17 Vanderbilt 70; No. 20 Louisville 72, St. John's 48; No. 21 BYU 76, Colorado State 67; Miami 68, No. 24 Virginia 60; and Tennessee 69, No. 25 Alabama 66 in overtime.

Ohio State has won 12 in a row overall, 24 straight at home and 11 consecutive Big Ten games. The conference winning streak is the second-longest in school history, eclipsed only by the 27 in a row by the Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek teams of 1960-62.

Oden finished 6-of-9 from the field _ five others had as many or more shots.

``We stress getting the ball inside, not just to me,'' he said. ``I'd like to touch the ball more, but when my teammates get shots ... I'm confident they can hit those shots.''

Geary Claxton had 15 points for the Nittany Lions (10-16, 1-12), who have lost their last 12.

No. 3 Florida 63, S. Carolina 49

Florida (25-3, 12-1) got going midway through the first half and dominated the Gamecocks (13-13, 3-10) most of the night. Noah had six points and 13 rebounds, while Corey Brewer had six points and a career-high 12 boards for Florida.

Tre Kelley led the Gamecocks with 19 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

No. 5 North Carolina 83, North Carolina St. 64

At Chapel Hill, N.C., Brandan Wright scored 24 points and North Carolina pulled away for an easy victory.

Tyler Hansbrough added 20 points for the Tar Heels (24-4, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who used a huge second-half run to avenge an upset loss earlier this month and move into first place in the league.

A North Carolina roster that went 12 players deep proved too much for the fatigued Wolfpack (14-12, 4-9).

The Tar Heels' superior depth even extended to the coaching staffs. N.C. State played the second half without coach Sidney Lowe, who for several days had been suffering from flulike symptoms and at halftime was taken to a hospital with dehydration. Assistant Monte Towe ran the team in the second half.

No. 8 Texas A&M 66, Oklahoma St. 46

Acie Law IV scored 19 points and freshman Donald Sloan added 15 as Texas A&M handed Oklahoma State its most lopsided home defeat in nearly three decades.

The Aggies (23-4, 11-2 Big 12) made their first win in Gallagher-Iba Arena a memorable one. They had the largest margin of victory for a visitor since Texas won 108-87 in Stillwater on Dec. 12, 1977, embarrassing the Cowboys (19-8, 5-7).

Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry, who combined to average 38.7 points, each had season lows in scoring. Curry had eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, and Boggan went 3-for-13 to finish with seven points and 10 rebounds.

No. 12 Georgetown 75, Cincinnati 65

At Cincinnati, Jeff Green scored 21 points and had a tone-setting block, helping Georgetown extend its winning streak to 10 games.

The Hoyas (21-5, 11-2 Big East) took control with a 13-point run late in the first half, and the league's toughest defense held off its worst team. Cincinnati (10-17, 1-2) has dropped nine in a row, its longest losing streak in 23 years.

No. 13 S. Illinois 58, Indiana St. 50

At Terre Haute, Ind., Tony Young scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half to help Southern Illinois beat Indiana State and win the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title outright.

Jamaal Tatum also scored 15 points for the Salukis (24-5, 14-3), who won their 10th straight.

Marico Stinson led Indiana State (12-16, 5-12) with 17 points.

Mississippi St. 83, No. 17 Vanderbilt 70

Jamont Gordon recorded his first career triple-double _ and the second in school history _ with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as Mississippi State (16-10, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) snapped a 13-game losing streak against ranked opponents.

Dan Cage led the Commodores (18-9, 8-5) with 12.

No. 20 Louisville 72, St. John's 48

At Louisville, Ky., Terrence Williams scored 16 points to go with four rebounds and four assists the Cardinals rolled over listless St. John's.

Louisville (20-8, 10-4 Big East) won its fourth straight and eighth in its last 10.

Anthony Mason Jr. led the Red Storm (15-13, 6-9) with 19 points.

No. 21 BYU 76, Colorado St. 67

At Provo, Utah, Keena Young scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and Brigham Young won its eighth straight.

The Cougars never trailed in their first game as a ranked team in nearly 14 years and had a double-digit lead for much of the second half while winning their 30th consecutive home game. BYU (21-6, 11-2) remained alone in first place in the Mountain West Conference.

Jason Smith led Colorado State (15-11, 5-9) with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Miami 68, No. 24 Virginia 60

Jack McClinton scored 14 points, including two late 3-pointers, to help Miami win at home. His 3-pointer with 1:06 left put Miami ahead for good, 61-58.

Sean Singletary scored 17 points to lead the Cavaliers (18-8, 9-4 ACC).

Tennessee 69, No. 25 Alabama 66, OT

Chris Lofton scored 20 points, JaJuan Smith added 16 and Tennessee rallied to beat Alabama in overtime.

The Volunteers (19-9, 7-6 Southeastern Conference), still hoping to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, improved to 15-0 at home this season.

The Crimson Tide (19-8, 6-7) came back from nine points down in the second half and struggled with a season-high 26 turnovers.