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Buckeyes Throttle Bearcats 72-50 in Wooden Classic
By John Porentas
Cincinnati Bearcat fans were very boisterous as their team was announced before the game in Indianapolis between the Bearcats and Buckeyes. It was the about the last time they had anything to cheer about.
Ohio State (9-1) put together a 28-2 run over the last 9:22 of the first half to take a 42-14 lead at the half over Cincinnati (7-3). From there on in, it was basically a matter of playing out the clock. The Bearcats never led in the game and never threatened the Buckeyes. OSU led by as-many-as 35 points twice in the second half. Cincinnati was able to trim some of OSU's lead late in the game to reduce the final margin of victory to just 22 points.
The Buckeyes did not dominate on the offensive end but were simply suffocating on the defensive end, particularly during their big run at the end of the first half. OSU center Greg Oden blocked five shots in the game and his presence as a clean-up man defensively in the paint allowed OSU's guards to get out and press the Bearcats on the perimeter. With hands in their faces all night, the Bearcats made just two-of-24 three point attempts for a miserable 8.3 per cent from long range. For the game, Cincinnati shot 26 per cent from the field.
"They don't want to drive when he's (Oden) down low. It makes them think twice and lets us put good pressure on them on the perimeter," said OSU guard Mike Conley
"On that run our defensive intensity was a good as its ever been. If we play defense like that we're going to be tough to stop."
"I didn't think we were sharp today offensively" said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta.
"We missed a lot of open shots. Our focus this week was strictly defense, and dang, our offense wasn't very good today, but I thought we saw some carryover on the defensive end," Matta said with a smile.
OSU's domination was so complete it even spilled over to the team mascots. With time out at the 7:51 mark Brutus Buckeye completely embarrassed The Bearcat by doing more pushups one-handed than the Bearcat could do with two. It was that kind of day for the Bearcats.
OSU's defensive effort, however, did not seem to impress the Bearcats. Bearcat Connor Barwin described Oden as "no different than any other seven footer we have to guard" and Barwin, Deonta Vaughn and John Williamson all insisted that Oden's presence and OSU's defensive pressure on the perimeter was not really the determining factor in the game.
"I don't think he was affecting me," said Vaughn who was held to five points against the Buckeyes after averaging 21.0 points per game over his last six games.
"Being a different facility we really weren't too familiar with the rims," Vaughn said.
"We practiced (at Canseco), but we had to go from the practice court to the main court. We weren't familiar with how the court is or how the balls are. We play with a different ball and to us the ball seemed a little smaller that the balls we play with. I don't think he (Oden) made a difference at all," said Vaughn
Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin pointed to his team's recent game against Xavier in the Cross-town shootout as a possible reason for their flat performance in the first half.
"Today we did not show the intensity that we've shown for the most part all year. I think our kids were emotionally drained from Wednesday night," said Cronin
"For some reason Ohio State didn't play all week. It was definitely a disadvantage.
"That being said anybody who watched the game knows that Ohio State outplayed us in every facet of the game and they deserved to win the ball game. They deserved to win the ball game. They whipped us every way you can whip a team. We got what we deserved," Cronin added.
Cronin attributed the whipping to a lack of intensity by his team.
"We didn't give our best effort. We gave up 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, five to Othello Hunter. Greg Oden's great as anyone who has seen basketball knows, but if Othello Hunter gets five offensive rebounds, that's a problem," said Cronin.
Cronin lamented the schedule and also the fact that he is a first-year coach and that the Bearcats lost two 6-10 players prior to the season. Both were ruled ineligible for playing on professional teams over seas.
"They caught us when we were down," said Cronin who obviously would like a rematch with the Buckeyes.
"I'm not going to beat a dead horse," Cronin said claiming Cincinnati has tried to schedule OSU in future seasons but that Buckeyes have balked.
"We've made our overtures, but I'm not going to beat a dead horse."
Oden recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of play. He also blocked five shots. Ivan Harris contributed 13 points and Ron Lewis 10 for the Buckeyes.
Cincinnati was led by John Williamson's game-high 17 points. Williamson also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. Jamual Warren also reached double figures for Cincinnati with 13.