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March 10, 2007
CHICAGO (AP) - Greg Oden spread out his arms and let out a primal scream. It was time to celebrate. His highlight-reel dunk pretty much punctuated another victory for Ohio State and sent the Buckeyes to the finals of the Big Ten tournament.
Oden went crashing through the lane, rising high over Carl Landry and David Teague to slam in a missed shot, giving the Buckeyes a late 11-point lead Saturday in their 63-52 victory over Purdue.
The victory moved the Buckeyes (29-3) a step closer to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They will take a 16-game winning streak into Sunday's conference tournament finals.
Oden's dunk also capped a performance that no doubt will have NBA scouts drooling - 17 points, a tournament-record 19 rebounds and four blocks.
But the dunk is the play that stood out, especially for the normally stoic Oden.
"I didn't get blocked out," Oden said. "So I went running back. I don't know what I did, I was just yelling. I enjoyed it," Oden said.
Teammate and fellow freshman Mike Conley Jr., who played high school ball with Oden, has seen plenty of head-turning outings from his friend.
"But that was an amazing play. It was a great moment to be a part of. Watching him go crazy and wave his arms in the air," Conley Jr. said.
Oden, who hasn't decided if he's going to go pro or return to Columbus for a second season, was 8-for-13 from the field and nine of his rebounds were on the offensive end.
His 19 rebounds broke the previous single-game tournament record of 18 set by Iowa's Reggie Evans, who hit that mark twice, in 2001 and 2002.
Ohio State finished with a 49-33 rebounding edge, 21-9 on the offensive end.
"If we can get into the lane or draw defenses to collapse on us, we know there is somebody not blocking out Greg," Conley Jr. said.
"It's bad to say, but even if you miss a shot, it might be a good play."
Landry scored 24 points for the Boilermakers, who managed just four baskets in the final 10 minutes - three by Landry - cooling off at the wrong time against the talented Buckeyes.
"I don't think I've ever played against a player like Greg Oden," said Landry, who has now lost to the 7-foot OSU freshman three times this season. "Even if he doesn't block a shot, he can alter it because he's so long and athletic. You always have it in the back of your head, where's he at?"
With Oden on the bench after getting his third foul midway through the second half, the Buckeyes got a driving layup from Jamar Butler after a Boilermakers' turnover and then a 3-pointer from Ron Lewis to take a 50-45 lead with 7:40 to go.
Oden returned and swatted away two shots to add to Purdue's struggle to score, and when Lewis made two free throws it was 53-45 with 5:29 to go.
Landry, who was 9-for-16 from the field, broke a nearly five-minute Purdue scoring drought with a jumper. But after another Boilermakers turnover, Conley Jr. swished a 3-pointer from the corner and the Buckeyes were up nine.
Then with 2:42 left, Butler missed a shot and Oden came roaring through the lane to stuff the ball through.
Now Purdue (21-11) will have to wait until Sunday's selection announcement to see if it will make the NCAA tournament.
"There's no doubt in my mind they're an NCAA tournament team," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I know I don't want to see them again."
Lewis added 13 points, Conley Jr. had 11 and Ivan Harris 10 for the Buckeyes.
Purdue, which shot 46 percent in the first half, managed only 28 percent in the final 20 minutes (8-for-29).
Calling Oden a "difference maker," Purdue coach Matt Paintner liked his team's effort, but said the Boilermakers gave up too many second shots and just couldn't score enough in the final 10 minutes.
"The ball just didn't go in," he said.
Teague added 12 points but just six after he hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the game.
Oden had 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first half, displaying an assortment of moves he can take to the next level when he decides to go - a spin in the lane away from a defender and a left-handed hook; and later a semi-sky hook from the baseline.
The Boilermakers, who lost a tough 63-56 decision at Columbus last month, played aggressively. The muscular 6-foot-7 Landry hit a couple of jumpers from outside away from Oden's long reach, and Keaton Grant drove the middle for a floater that went in the basket as Purdue forged a five-point lead late in the half.
But Conley's driving basket and Lewis' three-point play helped the Buckeyes recover for a 29-28 halftime lead.