from The Ohio News NetworkBuckeyes Nip Badgers; Win Big Ten Title
Feb 25 2007 6:16PM
Mike Conley Jr. drove the lane and made a runner with 4 seconds left to give No. 2 Ohio State a 49-48 victory over top-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday, clinching the Buckeyes' second consecutive Big Ten title.
The game marked the first time Big Ten teams have met in a 1 vs. 2 game.
With the victory, the Buckeyes are likely to climb to the top spot in The Associated Press rankings for the first time since Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and a sub named Bob Knight were ranked No. 1 throughout the 1962 season.
Alando Tucker, Wisconsin's candidate for conference player of the year, had given the Badgers the lead with just under a minute left when he scored inside off Jason Chappell's dump pass.
Chappell then blocked a shot by Ron Lewis before Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor was sent to the line in the bonus situation with 20.3 seconds left. Taylor's first attempt spun off the rim.
After a timeout, the Buckeyes (26-3, 14-1) passed around the perimeter before Conley, a freshman who has spent his career in the shadow of 7-foot high school and college teammate Greg Oden, then scissored through the lane and tossed up a soft shot that balanced on the rim before falling.
The Badgers (26-4, 12-3), who lost both games this week after becoming No. 1 for the first time ever, inbounded to Taylor who drove the length of the floor and tried an off-balance 15-footer at the buzzer. Lewis, a senior playing his final home game, blocked the shot.
Taylor looked to the officials, hoping to get a call. But there was no call and within seconds a capacity crowd flooded the court in celebration.
Ivan Harris led the Buckeyes with 13 points, with Oden and Conley each scoring 11.
Amid speculation he might turn pro after his freshman year, the crowd serenaded Oden with a chant of "One More Year!" as the Buckeyes assembled on the floor to accept the conference championship trophy.
Tucker, averaging 20.2 points, was held to 12. Reserve Jason Bohannon went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points. Taylor scored 10.
Ohio State also won the last time a No. 1 team visited Columbus -- stunning unbeaten Illinois in the home finale two years ago.
The Buckeyes have won 12 straight conference games and 25 in a row at home, including all 18 this season.
"These guys deserve a lot of credit," coach Thad Matta said. "I don't think anyone can imagine the dedication they put in and how hard it is to defend a championship."
"The thing I'm most proud of is we did not lose in this building this year," he added.
In a tense, gritty yet typical Big Ten defensive struggle, Wisconsin grabbed a 46-42 lead before Conley converted a 12-foot right-handed jumper -- he usually shoots left-handed. After an errant alley-oop pass by Chappell, Conley drove the lane and dished to Oden, who retrieved the loose ball and dunked while he was being fouled. He then completed the three-point play for a 47-46 lead with 2:46 left.
With just under a minute left, the Badgers took the lead when they pulled Oden away from the basket to guard Chappell, who dumped a pass inside to Tucker for a layup with 54.5 seconds left.
That set up the hectic final minute.
The Badgers were without their tallest starter and leading rebounder, Brian Butch, for the entire second half. Butch left the court with his right arm in a sling, grimacing in pain, with 2:42 left in the first half.
He was injured when he tried to take a charge on Jamar Butler and was knocked down, striking his elbow on the floor. Butch, averaging nine points and six rebounds, hit a perimeter jumper his next time down the floor, but then went to the bench. He wore his red warm-up suit on the sideline in the second half.
Ohio State captured back-to-back outright titles for the first time since running off three in a row between 1960-62.
Wisconsin was No. 1 in the poll for the first time ever, but then lost at Michigan State 64-55 on Tuesday night. The Badgers had won the first match up between the teams 72-69 on Jan. 9 in Madison.