Saturday , Mar , 17 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Buckeyes survive, rally to beat Xavier in OT

Lexington, KY (Sports Network) – Ron Lewis drained the game-tying three-
pointer with two seconds left in regulation and the top-seeded Buckeyes
survived a major scare and beat Xavier, 78-71, in overtime in the second round
of the NCAA Tournament.

Thad Matta left as Xavier’s head coach three years ago to take over at Ohio
State, but his old team nearly got sweet revenge Saturday before the Buckeyes,
the No. 1 seed in the South Region, pulled away in overtime.

Despite Greg Oden fouling out, the Buckeyes rallied from a double-digit
deficit in the second half and advanced past the second round of the NCAA
Tournament for the first time since 1999 when they reached the Final Four
before being knocked out by Connecticut.

Lewis finished with 27 points and Mike Conley Jr. scored 21 for Ohio State
(32-3), which won its 19th straight game and will face either fourth-seeded
Virginia or fifth-seeded Tennessee next Thursday in San Antonio.

Oden had 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while Jamar Butler chipped in
13 for the Buckeyes.

Justin Cage posted 25 points for Xavier (25-9), which was coming off a 79-77
win over BYU and had won 10 of its last 11 coming in. Justin Doellman netted
13 points and Josh Duncan posted 11 for the Musketeers, who faltered in the
second half to the disbelief of head coach Sean Miller.

It was in July of 2004 that Matta declared he had no interest in becoming the
head coach at Ohio State, but within a week he changed his mind and headed out
of the Atlantic 10 and to the Big Ten to take over the Buckeyes.

In Matta’s final season at Xavier, the Musketeers reached the Elite Eight
before being eliminated by Duke. Now, his new team pushes on.

Things were nip-and-tuck for the first 10 minutes of the second half until the
Musketeers, trailing by two, ripped off a 16-3 burst — capped by Drew
Lavender’s trey — for a 55-44 advantage with 7:21 remaining.

Ohio State, however, refused to bow down and went on a 14-4 run to cut within
one, 59-58, with 1:36 to play. Then, after Cage hit two from the charity
stripe, Oden converted a free throw to make it a two-point contest.

Cage also hit one of his own to give Xavier a 62-59 edge with nine seconds
left, but Lewis carried the ball the length of the court and drilled the
triple from behind the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Doellman got things going with a jumper, but Ohio
State went on a 10-0 scamper — led by Conley’s seven points — for a 72-64
lead with 2:15 remaining to ice the game.

The first half remained close with Xavier holding just two slim leads and then
tying it at 13 with 8:27 left. Butler, though, drained back-to-back three-
pointers as Ohio State led the rest of the frame.

Conley’s late jumper gave the Buckeyes a 29-25 edge at halftime.

Game Notes

The Buckeyes finished 41 percent shooting from the field, while Xavier shot 43
percent in the contest…Ohio State dominated the glass, outrebounding the
Musketeers 45-28…Ohio State’s last loss came on January 9 against No. 2
Wisconsin…The Buckeyes own a 3-1 edge in the all-time series with Xavier.
They last met in the first round of the 1984 NIT, with the Musketeers winning
60-57.

OHIOST XAVIER