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No. 1 Ohio St seeks Big Ten final berth vs. Purdue

Mar 10, 2007 - 3:18 PM Purdue (21-10) vs. No. 1 Ohio State (28-3) 1:40 pm EST

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- If Purdue has any realistic hopes of defeating Ohio State, it can not afford to trail at halftime.

The top-ranked Buckeyes can win their 16th consecutive to ensure a return trip to the Big Ten Conference tournament championship game with Saturday's matchup against the Boilermakers.

Looking for a chance at redemption after losing last year's title game against Iowa, Ohio State is 26-1 this season when leading after halftime. The lone loss was against North Carolina during the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on November 29.

The freshman duo of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. is playing like a pair of seasoned veterans. They led the way for the Buckeyes in Friday's 72-62 triumph over Michigan.

The 7-0 Oden made 8-of-12 shots in the contest and scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half. Conley added 13 points with six assists and is three shy of becoming the first Ohio State player collect 200 in a season.

Senior Ron Lewis had 16 points and needs eight for 1,600 for his career. He also is one rebound shy of 500.

Seeded fourth, Purdue has won its last four games and is attempting to reach the final for the first time since 1998, when it lost to Michigan. This is the Boilermakers' first appearance in the semis in nine years.

Purdue ended Iowa's bid for back-to-back tournament crowns with Friday's 74-55 victory. Leading scorer Carl Landry scored 20 points and David Teague added 15.

Ohio State won both regular-season matchups against Purdue, including a 63-56 triumph February 10.