for this game

Ohio State edges Wisconsin, claims Big Ten title

Feb 26, 2007 - 2:53 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Ohio State cemented its status as No. 1 - both nationally and in the Big Ten Conference.

Ivan Harris scored 15 points and freshman Mike Conley, Jr. scored the winning basket with 3.9 seconds left to lead the top-ranked Buckeyes to a pulsating 49-48 victory over No. 2 Wisconsin.

Ohio State (26-3, 14-1 Big Ten) clinched its second consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship and won its 13th straight game by avenging a 72-69 loss to the Badgers on January 9 - the Buckeyes' last loss.

"This was a punch-after-punch game," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. "Wisconsin forced us to compete for 40 minutes. In these type of games guys have to make plays. The atmosphere here was off the charts today.

Senior Ron Lewis made the final play, preserving the victory by blocking Kammron Taylor's short jumper at the right side of the lane as time expired, allowing Ohio State to finish the campaign with a perfect 18-0 record at home.

"This group has worked so hard for it," Lewis said. "We were in the gym all summer, since the freshmen got here, and all we talked about was winning the Big Ten. It is a beautiful thing."

The game marked the first time a pair of Big Ten squads have met in a contest pitting the top two teams in the country.

Wisconsin (26-4, 12-3) absorbed its second straight defeat and may have suffered an even more costly loss when junior center Brian Butch suffered an injury to his right elbow early in the game. Butch briefly returned to the bench with his arm in a sling.

As expected, the contest was tight throughout, with the Badgers holding the game's biggest lead at six points (15-9). The score was tied six times and there were 12 lead changes.

A layup by Michael Flowers put Wisconsin ahead, 46-42, with 3:39 to play but Ohio State answered with five straight points, including a thunderous dunk by star freshman center Greg Oden on a three-point play that made it 47-46 with 2:46 left.

Leading scorer Alando Tucker scored on a short banker to regain the lead for the Badgers with 54 seconds remaining, but Taylor missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 20 seconds to go, setting up Conley's heroics.

The freshman point guard slashed into the lane and hit a leaner that bounced off the front rim and dropped through the net for the go-ahead basket, giving the Buckeyes a 49-48 lead. Conley and Oden, teammates in high school, had 11 points apiece.

"This gives us confidence to know we can beat a top-ranked team," Conley said. "We are getting better out there. Playing Wisconsin helped expose weaknesses we need to work on. In the long run it is going to help out."

Tucker was held to 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting for Wisconsin, which shot 35 percent (20-of-57) from the field.

"We just had to limit his touches. That was the main thing," Lewis said of Tucker. "It was fortunate he missed a lot of his shots and we contested a lot of his shots." Despite the presence of the 7-foot Oden, who also have five blocked shots, the Badgers owned a 38-29 edge on the glass. That advantage was negated at the free-throw line, where Wisconsin finished 3-of-6 and missed its only attempt of the second half.

"It's tough to get to the free-throw line with Oden in there," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "It's tough to get any shots off for that matter."