Game analysis of Ohio State-Florida

Updated: April 3, 2007, 2:56 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- ESPN.com writer Mark Schlabach provides instant analysis from the national championship game between Ohio State and Florida.

GAME ANALYSIS

Doug Gottlieb's Analysis
First of all, Greg Oden is the real deal. I played basketball for more than 20 years, including playing in three NCAA Tournaments and professionally in the minor leagues and overseas. In all that time, I can count on both hands the number of times I have seen a shot-blocker block a dunk in a game. Oden blocked three in the final, including a two-handed catch of Corey Brewer's first-half baseline attempt that was maybe the best block I have ever seen.

Every time OSU made it close, someone lost track of Lee Humphrey in several loose ball situations and Humphrey made them pay. Or Taurean Green hit a 3. Or Al Horford hit a jump shot. It was really remarkable to watch just how timely Florida's baskets were.

Ohio State also failed to drive the ball consistently when it was kicked out by Oden. Twenty-three 3-point attempts were just far too many, and there was not enough emphasis on creating off the dribble.

How good is Florida? The Gators got almost nothing from Joakim Noah and turned the ball over eight more times than OSU and still won. Ohio State scouted Florida perfectly by not guarding Noah, Chris Richard or Horford out on the floor, yet Florida still shot 49 percent from the field.

Jamar Butler was just not on, and his untimely misses were brutal. In the most simplistic explanation possible, OSU did not make shots and Florida did.

Although Ohio State has a huge alumni base and there was plenty of scarlet in Atlanta, it was at least 80 percent UF fans in the dome. Florida did not need the lift, but the "Go Gators" chant sounded similar to the chant that rang loud in the SEC football championship.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Ohio State got as close as six points when freshman center Greg Oden made two foul shots with 5:03 to play. But then Gators point guard Taurean Green drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 69-60. After Buckeyes guard Ron Lewis made a layup, Gators reserve Chris Richard made a hook shot over Oden to extend Florida's lead to 71-62 with 4:19 to play. Then Gators forward Al Horford made a short jumper and added two foul shots to make it 75-62 with 2½ minutes remaining.

HOW THE GAME WAS REALLY WON: The Gators' athletic wing players and guards shut down Ohio State's perimeter shooters. Oden had a fabulous game, with 25 points and 12 rebounds, but he got little help from anyone else. The Buckeyes were only 4-for-23 on 3-pointers (two came in the last 36.1 seconds); the Gators were 10-for-18. Point guard Mike Conley Jr. didn't make a 3-pointer, and Lewis, Jamar Butler and Ivan Harris were a combined 3-for-18.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Each of the Gators' five starters, which is why they became the first team to win consecutive national titles since Duke in 1991 and '92. Each of the starters -- guards Green and Lee Humphrey, forwards Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Horford -- made a significant contribution in the win over the Buckeyes. Horford scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while battling Oden, and Noah had eight points and three rebounds. Green scored 16 points with six assists and three rebounds, while controlling Conley on defense. Versatile Brewer scored 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds, and senior Humphrey scored 14 and made four 3-pointers, each of which came at critical spots.

BEST PLAYER ON THE FLOOR: Oden, the Buckeyes' 7-foot All-American, is pretty good when officials let him play. He was a dominant force inside, making 10 of 15 shots. He also blocked four shots and stayed out of foul trouble, not picking up his third until there was 6:17 left to play.

SUPER SUB: Richard had another huge contribution off the bench, scoring eight points on 3-for-5 shooting with eight rebounds in 20 minutes. He scored 16 points in the Gators' 67-60 win over UCLA in the semifinals Saturday.

STAT OF THE GAME: The Buckeyes were 4-for-23 on 3-pointers after making 37 combined in their first five NCAA Tournament games.

FIRST-HALF ANALYSIS
TURNING POINT: The Buckeyes seemed poised to make a serious run at the Gators when senior Ivan Harris drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner with 5:37 to go. But the Gators quickly answered with 3-pointers on three straight possessions. Senior Lee Humphrey made the first -- his 12th 3-pointer in the last three NCAA Tournament games -- to give Florida a 27-22 lead. After Ohio State's Jamar Butler missed a 3-pointer, Gators forward Corey Brewer hit a long 3 from the top of the key to make it 30-22, then Harris missed another 3 on the Buckeyes' possession. With 3:49 left, Florida point guard Taurean Green made a 3-pointer for a 33-22 lead.

TURNING POINT II: Ohio State center Greg Oden, a 7-foot freshman and first team All-American, played the first 10 minutes, 41 seconds of the first half without picking up a foul. Oden had been plagued by foul trouble in each of the previous three NCAA Tournament games, playing 18, 24 and 20 minutes, respectively, in victories over Tennessee, Memphis and Georgetown. In the national semifinal win over the Hoyas on Saturday night, Oden played only 161 seconds in the first half. But against Florida, Oden wasn't whistled for his first foul until 9:19 left in the half, when he tried to block forward Chris Richard's shot in the lane. Oden left the court with 8:41 to go, and the Gators quickly attacked the basket, with Al Horford banking in a shot over reserve Matt Terwilliger on the Gators' first possession after Oden left. Oden scored 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting with seven rebounds in the first half.

PLAYER OF THE HALF: Brewer had 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. But the highlight came when the 6-foot-9 forward picked point guard Mike Conley Jr.'s pocket and raced the other way for a breakaway dunk that gave the Gators a 35-24 lead with 2½ minutes remaining. Brewer also defended Ron Lewis, holding him to two points on 1-for-3 shooting.

BEST BLOCK: Oden nearly consumed Brewer on a layup attempt with 10½ minutes to play. Oden stuffed Brewer's shot with both arms and yanked away the rebound.

STAT OF THE HALF: Florida made 8 of 10 foul shots; Ohio State made 1 of 2.

STAT OF THE HALF II: The Gators were 6-for-9 on 3-pointers; the Buckeyes were 2-for-12.

WORST DISAPPEARING ACT: During an official timeout with 7:59 to go in the half, Ohio State fans cheered when Lewis' memorable last-second shot against Xavier in the second round was named the game-changing play of the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard has been missing in action at the Final Four.

WORST CALL: Official Edward Corbett got an earful from Florida coach Billy Donovan when Richard was called for his second foul with five minutes to play. Corbett told Donovan that Richard had his arm in Oden's back. Apparently, Corbett and officials Karl Hess and Tony Greene heard the widespread complaints about Oden being penalized for too many ticky-tack fouls. He got away with a lot in the first half, and the Gators were whistled several times for hacking him.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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