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Lewis, Ohio State thwart Davidson's upset bid

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State had four trips to the NCAA
Tournament erased last week. Ron Lewis made this one count.

Stung by the NCAA punishment, Ohio State regrouped in its
tournament opener behind an excellent performance by Lewis. He was
in the middle of almost every play during a second-half surge that
led the second-seeded Buckeyes to a 70-62 first-round victory over
relentless Davidson in the Minneapolis Regional on Friday.

"I told these guys after the game that the greatest words you
can hear in college basketball are 'Ohio State advances,' and
that's what we've done," coach Thad Matta said.

The teams met in the first round of the tournament four years
ago, with Ohio State winning 69-64 -- the last appearance by either
team in the elite field.

The NCAA ruled last week that Ohio State must erase all
references to that game, along with all the others from the 1998-99
through 2001-2002 seasons, for using an ineligible player while Jim
O'Brien was the head coach.

On Friday, the sixth-ranked Buckeyes (26-5) were in trouble for
much of the game, beset by bad shooting and the inspired play of
the Wildcats (20-11), the Southern Conference tournament champions.

Lewis came off the bench to change all that, scoring 16 of his
19 points in the second half. When the Big Ten regular-season
champions were 1-for-14 on 3-pointers, he hit two in a row to give
them their first lead in more than 16 minutes.

"We got confused a couple of times on ball screens and he was
able to get some open looks," Davidson's Brendan Winters said. "I
guess it just happened to be his time."

Lewis, a transfer from Bowling Green, then stole a pass at the
other end, and Terence Dials, the Big Ten's player of the year,
scored at the other end. After two Davidson misses, Lewis then
assisted as Dials scored inside to cap the 10-0 run and give the
Buckeyes a 42-35 lead with 11 minutes left.

"In the first half, they were double- and triple-teaming me,"
Dials said. "I couldn't get my shot off real clean. I tried to
manufacture points in other ways, getting offensive rebounds. Once
I did that, things started to open up for me."

The Wildcats got as close as 49-46 on Winters' steal and jumper
with 7½ minutes left, but J.J. Sullinger scored on a short jumper
and Dials had a three-point play and Ohio State's lead never fell
below five points again. The Buckeyes move on to a second-round
meeting with No. 7 seed Georgetown on Sunday.

Dials also had a big second half, scoring 13 of his 19 points.
He also had 12 rebounds. Sullinger chipped in with 13 points and 13
rebounds.

Asked how loud on a scale of 10 Matta was in the locker room at
halftime, Sullinger said, "Probably a 13."

He added, "No, he just told us what needed to be said. We
didn't come all this way to play the way we did in the first
half."

Ian Johnson matched his career high with 26 points and also had
10 rebounds for the Wildcats. Winters, Davidson's leading scorer at
17.1 points a game, finished with 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting
from the field.

There were bad omens all day for the Buckeyes, who have won
eight of their last nine and 12 of 14 but looked tired and listless
in losing the Big Ten tournament finale to Iowa on Sunday.

Dials tried to corral a Davidson miss midway through the first
half and tipped the ball into the basket without a Wildcat even
remotely nearby.

For a while, it looked as if the Wildcats might become the fifth
No. 15 seed to dump a No. 2.

Davidson's fans made up a small but vocal segment of the
partisan Ohio State crowd. They had a lot to cheer in the opening
half.

The Wildcats led 29-25 at the break, completely frustrating the
Buckeyes -- who had difficulty scoring inside or out. Ohio State,
stuck in a lengthy shooting slump, was 1-for-14 from 3-point range.
In addition, Dials was 3-of-12 in the paint and the Buckeyes shot
under 30 percent from the field.

The Buckeyes turned things around, thanks to Lewis and Dials, in
the second half. They shot 54 percent from the field and finished
the game with only four turnovers.

"They made some big shots at big times in the game," Davidson
coach Bob McKillop said. "And that's why they're the Big Ten
champions."