Sunday , Mar , 11 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Buckeyes secure Big Ten title

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Mike Conley Jr. notched 18 points and eight
assists, as two of the top three teams in the country met in the United
Center, with top- seeded and top- ranked Ohio State downing second-seeded and
third-ranked Wisconsin, 66-49, to win the Big Ten Tournament title and secure
an automatic bid and subsequent top- seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“Well, they (Wisconsin) made it to the tournament for a reason,” Conley said.
“They’re a good team. I know we’re looking forward to getting down to
Lexington because it’s pretty close to home and looking to see a lot of fans
out there.”

Ohio State (30-3) made its second straight appearance in the title game, after
falling to Iowa (67-60) in last year’s event.

“I think as you go through a Big Ten season, it’s amazing what it takes to win
in this conference,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “Honestly, that’s why
I’m so proud of what our guys have been able to do this year. There’s great
players, there’s great coaches, and for six of us to be in out of 11, I
couldn’t be happier for the league. I think it’s just another statement of why
the Big Ten is the Big Ten.”

Ron Lewis scored 17 points for the Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten regular
season with an impressive 15-1 league ledger and successfully navigated the
tournament field with wins over Michigan in the quarterfinal (72-62) and
Purdue in Saturday’s semifinal (63-52). Greg Oden posted 12 points, 10
rebounds and four blocked shots for Ohio State, which has a 17-game win streak
in tow, having not lost since January 9th at Wisconsin.

Kammron Taylor scored 15 points for the Badgers (29-5), who finished the
season in second place in the conference, with a 13-3 record, and dropped two
straight games late in the season, including a one-point decision to Ohio
State on February 25th (49-48). Big Ten player of the year Alando Tucker
posted 10 points and eight boards for Wisconsin, which moved into this
championship game with wins over Michigan State (70-57) and Illinois (53-41).

After the game, the Buckeyes found out they were the top seed in the South
bracket of the NCAA Tournament. They will take on Northeast champion Central
Connecticut State on Thursday in Winston-Salem.

Wisconsin was given the No. 2 seed in the Midwest bracket with a first-round
game against Southland Conference champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday
in Chicago.

With an early two-point lead, OSU scored five straight and Matt Terwilliger’s
trey gave Ohio State an 11-4 lead nine minutes into the game. Wisconsin caught
back up by also scoring five straight down the stretch capped by Tucker’s free
throw with 2:46 to go, but still trailed 26-20 at halftime.

“In the first half we just didn’t get the ball,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
“We were a half step behind, a half click behind on pass and catch. We had 12
turnovers, that’s 12 shots you don’t get.”

The Buckeyes grabbed a double-digit lead right out of the locker room,
starting the second half on an 8-3 spurt, with Oden’s slam 2:11 into the
stanza putting OSU ahead 34-23.

Wisconsin hung with the Buckeyes over the next several minutes of play, but
Ohio State put the game away on a 9-0 burst finished by a Lewis trey with 3:25
remaining. The shot put OSU ahead 62-45, as the Buckeyes danced their way down
the home stretch.

Game Notes

The Buckeyes’ one other tournament title came in 2002. The Badgers also have
one tournament title to speak of, winning this event in 2004…These two teams
split a pair of meetings this season, each winning on its own home floor.