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Oden, Hibbert square off as Ohio State clashes with Georgetown

Mar 31, 2007 - 1:59 PM No. 2 Georgetown (30-6) at No. 1 Ohio St (34-3) 6:07 pm EDT

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Greg Oden has had a number of achievements in his first season at Ohio State. But the 7-foot freshman will have to overcome his tallest challenge in order for the Buckeyes' magical season to continue.

Oden and Ohio State aim to exact a measure of revenge against star center Greg Hibbert and Georgetown when the teams square off Saturday in the NCAA Tournament national semifinal.

The last time these national powerhouses met was last year, when Georgetown coasted to a 70-52 victory over Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But that Buckeyes team did not have Oden, the mammoth center who has garnered multiple individual awards and is a consensus favorite, along with Texas' Kevin Durant, for one of the top two picks in this summer's NBA draft.

Along with fellow freshman Mike Conley Jr., Oden is a major reason why the Buckeyes are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1999 and seeking their first title since 1960. Ohio State is making its ninth Final Four appearance overall.

Oden, who has the ability to change games when he is on the court and off it when in foul trouble, garnered All-American honors earlier this week. In seven postseason games including the Big Ten Conference tournament, he is averaging 15.7 points and 10.1 rebounds to go along with 20 blocks.

The top seed in the South Region, Ohio State also has been getting solid play from senior Ron Lewis, who is averaging 23.5 points in the tournament.

In the South regional final, Lewis scored 22 points, Conley had 19 and Oden 17 and nine rebounds as the Buckeyes pulled away for a 92-76 triumph over second-seeded Memphis.

The Hoyas, who were seeded second in the East Region, are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1985, when Patrick Ewing was patrolling the paint and coach John Thompson had his famous white towel draped over his shoulder.

These Hoyas feature another big man in Hibbert and Thompson's son, John Thompson III, as coach. Patrick Ewing Jr., who provides energy off the bench, also is a member of this squad.

Hibbert, a 7-2 junior who also has trouble staying on the court sometimes due to fouls, enters the game with five straight double-doubles. He is averaging 12.7 points and 6.9 rebounds on the season.

Seeking their second national title with the other coming in 1984, the Hoyas also rely heavily on versatile forward Jeff Green, the Big East Conference Player of the Year who leads the team at 14.4 points per game.

Green scored 22 points, freshman DaJuan Summers 20 and Hibbert 13 and 11 rebounds as Georgetown rallied for a 96-84 overtime victory over North Carolina in the East Region final. The Hoyas overcame a double-digit deficit with under eight minutes left in regulation.

The winner of Saturday's contest will take on either UCLA or defending champion Florida in Monday night's championship game.