Ohio State uses 3-pointer to roll past Central Conn.Mar 16, 2007 - 7:48 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- It took a half for freshman sensation Greg Oden to adjust to the NCAA Tournament - mainly because of his teammates.
Oden scored 15 of his 19 points as top-seeded Ohio State easily rolled to a 78-57 victory over No. 16 seed Central Connecticut State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region.
Jamar Butler scored 17 points and Ron Lewis added 13 for the Buckeyes (31-3), who will face No. 9 seed Xavier in Saturday's second round.
It will be a memorable matchup for Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who coached the Musketeers for three seasons before taking the job in Columbus, Ohio in 2004.
"I'm a weird guy in that regard," he said. "I don't hone in on the name across the chest. I know it will be a little bit different because I was there and coached some of the guys. I don't think that will be that big of an issue."
Similar to Ohio State's win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference tournament title game on Sunday, Oden was not much of a factor early. While fouls prevented the 7-footer from contributing in the previous contest, it was the play of his teammates that limited Oden's role in the first half on Thursday.
Although Oden had a sizeable advantage over the Blue Devils, the champion of the Northeast Conference, the Buckeyes looked to the outside in taking a 19-6 lead slighty more than eight minutes into the contest.
Butler started the game with consecutive 3-pointers and added a third with 13:23 left before intermission, making it 17-3. The senior guard went on to finish 5-of-6 from the arc.
Lewis also had two 3-pointers during the early burst and ended 3-of-6 from long range.
In all, Ohio State made 7-of-12 attempts from the arc in the first half en route to taking a 38-17 lead.
"I think we got off to a great start both offensively and defensively," Matta said. "We made some shots early."
With the Buckeyes bombing away, Oden attempted just three shots in the first half. He finished 6-of-10 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double and 12th of the season.
Similar to the first half, Ohio State had a strong start after the intermission, building up the lead to 51-24 on a jumper by Matt Terwilliger that capped a 13-6 burst.
Central Connecticut later countered with a rally of its own, closing within 57-41 with a 12-2 burst that Joe Seymore capped with a 3-pointer with 10:40 left. However, the Blue Devils would get no closer.
"When you play a team like Central Connecticut State, they are a team that is never going to go away," Matta said. "They came out playing with a lot of intensity and tried to run their offense. They made a couple of runs on us, I thought we answered those."
Javier Mojica scored 19 points for Central Connecticut (22-12), which shot 36 percent (19-of-53).
Tristan Blackwood and Seymore scored 12 points apiece and Jemino Sobers added 10 and eight rebounds for the Blue Devils, who were pounded in points in the paint, 32-15, and bench points, 22-0.
- SOUTH REGIONAL
AT LEXINGTON KY
NCAA BB SOUTH REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
CENTRAL CONN 17 40 57
OHIO ST 38 40 78 FINAL
Mar 15 9:01 PM
- SOUTH REGIONAL
AT LEXINGTON KY
NCAA BB (16) CENTRAL CONN 17
(1) OHIO ST 38 HALFTIME
Mar 15 7:51 PM
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