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Oden impressive as Ohio State pounds Cleveland State

Dec 9, 2006 - 11:20 PM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Only Greg Oden could stop Greg Oden.

Oden battled foul trouble but did not miss a shot from the field en route to 16 points as fourth-ranked Ohio State cruised to a 78-57 victory over Cleveland State.

Othello Hunter had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Mike Conley Jr. scored 12 points for the Buckeyes (8-1), who never trailed, shot 54 percent (29-of-54) from the field and held a 45-21 advantage on the backboards.

"(Oden) makes it so easy to play because most guys (on defense) will go for him," Hunter said. "When that happens, I am wide open. It also gives me a chance to get easy rebounds."

"Greg is a big guy with a big game," teammate Ivan Hunter said. "He definitely opens up a lot of space."

After missing the early portion of the season with an injured right wrist, Oden made his collegiate debut a week ago. Playing with his right hand in a cast, the 7-footer came off the bench to collect 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a win over Valparaiso.

Making his first start, Oden did not wear the cast Saturday and was simply unstoppable. Doing most of his work in the low post, he made all eight of his shots as he simply overwhelmed the smaller Vikings.

"Dunking felt good," Oden said. "When I get the ball, the shot clock is running, so I just have to be smart with it. I've been practicing a lot. I just take my time and take it easy."

"The 'Greg Oden Returns' is off him now, because he's back," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "He is still not 100 percent and is still getting his feet wet, but putting him into these situations will help."

Oden scored eight points in a game-opening 12-0 run and was 5-of-5 in the first half, helping Ohio State to a 41-31 lead. The bulge might have been bigger had Oden not spent most of the period on the bench after picking up his third foul.

Before intermission, the Buckeyes outscored the Vikings, 16-3, when Oden was on the floor. J'Nathan Bullock kept Cleveland State in it with 17 of his 21 points.

"Our intentions were to leave him in a little longer, because we are trying to get him playing as much as we can," Matta said. "I think he is more at ease, not quite as nervous now that he has got into playing."

Oden avoided foul trouble after halftime. He took a shot above the left eye that was not called as he put in a layup that gave the Buckeyes a 50-38 lead with 16 minutes to go.

The Vikings were within nine points before Hunter had three straight layups and two free throws to build the advantage to 58-41 with 11:32 to play.

"Oden is going to get his, but Hunter really stepped up for them," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said.

In the final four minutes, Oden missed three free throws that he shot lefthanded due to the injury. He atoned with an impressive block - his fourth of the game - that triggered a breakaway layup for a three-point play by Ron Lewis.

"I played all right. Today was a team effort," Oden said. "I just feel more comfortable on the court."

Lewis scored nine points and Harris added eight and 10 boards for the Buckeyes, who have won two in a row since their loss to North Carolina on November 29.

Joe Davis scored 12 points for Cleveland State (5-6), which shot just 38.5 percent (20-of-52) and has lost three straight games. The Vikings fell to 1-5 all-time against the Buckeyes.

    --- --- -----
    CLEVELAND ST 31 26 57
    OHIO ST (4) 41 37 78 FINAL

    Dec 9 5:59 PM


    Dec 9 4:54 PM