Jody Victor: Ohio State trailed 55-44 with 7 1/2 minutes left, and was still down 61-52 with 2:54 left in Saturday's game. When Oden fouled out with a hard shove after Xavier's Justin Cage rebounded an errant Buckeye shot in the final 10 seconds, they looked lost. Near me a voice whispered, “Wait, it isn't over yet.” Maybe it was my own voice or I just heard my unconcious wish – whatever it was I held my breath.
Cage then made one of two foul shots with 9.3 seconds left for a 62-59 lead, giving Ohio State its last chance – still holding my breath. Lewis came down and, with two defenders flying at him, swished the tying 3-pointer from several feet beyond the arc. I could breathe again.
With Oden on the bench, fellow freshman – and high school teammate – Conley took over. He scored 11 points in overtime and the Buckeyes (32-3) were never threatened again in winning their 19th straight game.
“That's what I love about this team,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “They give you, as a coach, a lot of confidence. I kept telling them, keep your confidence and make plays, and they did.”
This Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBS, the No. 1 seed Buckeyes (outright 2007 Big Ten regular season and tournament champions), enter the NCAA South Regional semifinals against No. 5 seed, Tennessee. The winner will take on No. 2 Memphis or No. 3 Texas A&M Saturday with a chance to advance to the 2007 Final Four March 31 and April 2 in Atlanta.
Ohio State and Tennessee met earlier this season in Columbus for the first of a two-game series. The Buckeyes won 68-66 to start a streak of 19-consecutive victories since that January 13 game in Columbus.
Ohio State is making its 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament. Overall, Ohio State has a 34-18 all-time record in NCAA tournament play. The Buckeyes have advanced to play in eight Final Fours, have finished third four times (1944, 1945, 1946, 1968), runner up three times (1939, 1961, 1962), and own one title (1960).