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Ohio St. Tops Cleveland St.; Oden Starts

December 9, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Greg Oden’s first collegiate start was almost perfect.

The 7-foot freshman made all eight of his shots from the field and taller, deeper Ohio State controlled inside in the fifth-ranked Buckeyes’ 78-57 victory over Cleveland State on Saturday.

Despite foul trouble that limited him to 23 minutes, Oden had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, three blocked shots and a steal.

Othello Hunter led the Buckeyes (8-1) with a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Mike Conley Jr. added 12 points and five assists. Ivan Harris had eight points and a career-best 10 rebounds for Ohio State.

J’Nathan Bullock had 21 points and Joe Davis added 12 for Cleveland State (5-6), which resorted to a deliberate offensive approach to try to take time off the clock.

The Buckeyes outrebounded the Vikings 45-21.

Oden did not play in Ohio State’s first seven games before scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds a week ago in a 78-58 win over Valparaiso. He is still recovering from surgery last June to repair ligament damage in his right wrist, and wears an elastic brace on his shooting hand.

One of the nation’s most acclaimed recruits, Oden was considered by many to be the top pick in the NBA draft last year if the league had not changed its rules to make high school players wait a year before becoming eligible.

He shot his free throws left-handed but used his right hand almost exclusively when shooting from the field _ although five of his baskets came on dunks.

The Buckeyes appeared tentative at times, indecisive about whether they were a team that dumped the ball into their big man or pumped up 3s and ran the floor. They did enough of both to run their record to 8-0 at home.

With Oden scoring on a drive, a half-hook and two dunks, the Buckeyes broke out to a 12-0 lead over the opening 3:04 and never trailed.

The lead hovered around 20 most of the second half.

The Vikings didn’t get their 10th rebound until the 10-minute mark of the second half _ Ohio State had 37 at the time.

The Buckeyes led 41-31 at halftime although Oden watched most of it from the bench. They outscored the Vikings 16-3 when he was playing, but two fouls limited him to a little over 6 minutes of action. He did make the most of that meager time, however, scoring 10 points while hitting all five of his shots.

The Buckeyes play Cincinnati next Saturday in Indianapolis, Oden’s hometown, in the Wooden Tradition. The teams have not played in basketball since March 24, 1962, in the NCAA championship game. The Bearcats won that game 71-59, a year after also beating Ohio State 70-65 in the tournament finale. Both times, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 and Cincinnati was No. 2.

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