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Conley, Oden carry Ohio State past Michigan

Feb 7, 2007 - 6:02 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Freshmen Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden are making the college game look not much more difficult than high school.

Conley scored a season-high 23 points and Oden supplied 15, eight rebounds and five blocks to lead No. 3 Ohio State to a 76-63 victory over Big Ten rival Michigan.

Teammates at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis a year ago, Conley and Oden are looking just as potent with the Buckeyes (21-3, 9-1 Big Ten), who won their eighth consecutive game and improved to 16-0 at home this season.

Oden scored 11 first-half points for Ohio State, but it was classmate Conley that helped Ohio State finally shake free of Michigan (16-8, 4-5), scoring 16 in the second half.

"Certainly Ohio State is an outstanding basketball team," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "They can beat you in a number of ways because they have so many weapons. Conley is as good or better than most point guards in the country. He can take over a game and he did that tonight."

Conley converted a three-point play to close the half and give the Buckeyes a 33-29 lead, then scored 12 points in the first 9:05 of the second half for a 54-47 lead with 10:55 to play. Oden sat for much of that time with three fouls.

"When he (Oden) is out of the game, the team plays harder," Conley said. "We know the big man is not down low and we have to step up our game. I am more scoring-minded when he is out of the game."

Ivan Harris and Conley opened the second half with 3-pointers to build the lead to double digits, but Oden went to the bench with his third foul less than three minutes in, allowing the Wolverines to pull within 56-52 before Oden returned with 8:52 to go.

The Buckeyes immediately went on a 9-1 run to push the lead to 65-53 with 5:17 left and Michigan never got closer than eight points thereafter.

Conley finished 9-of-12 from the field for Ohio State, which was 13-of-15 from the foul line. Conley also had six assists to add to his conference-leading total of 153.

"Mike can take over a game when he wants to," Oden said. "I just sat back and watched and did my part. He is a great player. We have not even seen the best of him yet."

Courtney Sims scored 17 points and Dion Harris and Ekpe Udoh added 14 apiece for the Wolverines, who shot 50 percent (27-of-54) from the floor.

That percentage may have been higher if not for a season-high 14 blocked shots by the Buckeyes, including five from Othello Hunter.

"It's really tough to run with them when they can block shots and grab offensive rebounds like they did," Amaker said. "It's not just Oden, either. Hunter, (Matt) Terwilliger and even (Ivan) Harris blocked shots inside tonight."