Hot-lanta: Ohio State On To Final Four

After eight years of a drought advancing no further than the second round in the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State will be playing in the season's final weekend. The Buckeyes upended 2-seeded Memphis to get to Atlanta and the Final Four with a 92-76 victory. The Buckeyes win the South region and Kyle Lamb takes a look back at the game with analysis in chronological order.

In a quick instant, Chris Douglas-Roberts wrapped up Greg Oden into a bearhug. Oden proceeded to make a shot despite being grabbed and Ohio State wound up scoring five points in one sequence.

Although Joey Dorsey probably wished he could have exerted that physical frustration on account of his pregame remarks gone terribly wrong, the intentional foul by Douglas-Roberts was a notable swing in the momentum.

The showdown was decisive in favor of "David."

Proclaiming to be "Goliath," in the biblical story of an undersized underdog, Dorsey tabbed zero points and just three rebounds. In a bit of irony, in the Bible, David beat the mammouth Goliath with a slingshot.

Ohio State pegged a 92-76 victory over Memphis Saturday afternoon in San Antonio, claiming a first Final Four since 1999 - and the first one that shows up in the record books since 1968.

The Buckeyes will play either North Carolina or Georgetown on Saturday. UCLA and Ohio State have clinched berths to Atlanta and the Bruins await either Florida or Oregon.

Here is a chronological breakdown of today's game in my analysis and observations of the historic Buckeye victory:


* Unlike previous games, Ohio State began Saturday by punching the opponent in the mouth instead of taking a punch. The Buckeyes scored the game's first eight points because of tough zone defense that seemingly had Memphis flustered. Ohio State scored off a hook shot by Oden, a rebound and outlet pass by Ron Lewis to Mike Conley and also a steal and coast-to-coast layup by David Lighty.

* The early zone was to protect foul trouble, especially for Greg Oden. However, when Oden picked up an early foul just a few minutes into the game, Memphis picked up the offensive execution by big outside shots from point guard Willie Kemp and guard Jeremy Hunt.

* 13:45 - Daequan Cook forced a three-pointer that was blocked by a Tiger defender. This was a microcosm of extremely poor offensive flow early in the game by the Buckeyes. It also was a sign that Cook again tried too hard to force the action. After the 8-0 beginning by Ohio State, Memphis reeled off a 15-3 run.

* The middle of the first half became de-Lighty-ful for Ohio State. Atoning for a bad pun, I say this because Ligthy was all over the floor. Specifically he stuffed the stat sheet but also record several plays that won't be found in the final score. Lighty soared for one rebound. He had three terrific passes around the perimeter. At one point, the 6:45 point of the first half, he exploded into the lane and dished out a fancy pass to Othello Hunter who slammed home a dunk from the baseline.

* The rest of the first half was light a good heavyweight fight. Hunt, the instant offense for the Tigers, traded basket for basket. His was stellar three-point shooting while Conley was penetrating with guns-a-blazing possession after possession. Conley showed streetball kind of moves and extreme quickness.

* At the 4:25 mark, Lighty showed his touted vertical leap on a rebound. At 3:39, Lighty tipped in a missed shot for a 32-29 lead. With 2:23, Lighty drew a charge on Andre Allen. Unfortunately for Lighty and OSU, he picked up a critical third foul before halftime.

* Matta did an excellent job substituting liberally in the first half. He was playing a chess match with John Calipari as to which lineup he had in the game. This aspect kept Memphis from ever getting too much momentum in the first half, in my opinion.

* One matchup that I felt Memphis didn't exploit enough was 6-9 Robert Dozier against Othello Hunter. Hunter was playing pretty well in the first portion of the game, but Dozier showed on two occasions the ability to drive to the basket. It didn't appear Hunter was comfortable guarding the penetration, but Dozier did not have the opportunity enough to take full advantage.


* A common trend in recent weeks for Ohio State has been the ability to begin the second half with momentum. It's often said that the first five minutes of the second half can be the most important portion of the entire game. With 19:46 left, on the first possession, the Buckeyes triggered a quick entry pass to Oden, who had a beautiful spin move on the right basline for an easy two. On the ensuing defensive possession, Oden had a defensive rebound where he took two dribbles up the floor, threw an outlet pass down to the left side for Jamar Butler and Butler spotted Lewis for an alley-oop. The quick four-point surge caused a Memphis timeout.

* With constant penetration, Ohio State drew a third foul on Goliath by forcing him to help off his man. The third came at 18:29, which forced Calipari to rest him.

* 17:21 was a critical juncture. Just two minutes into the half, Oden was whistled for his third foul. The worst part about the foul was that Oden wasn't fighting for position inside. He wasn't going for a blocked shot of an oncoming player. In fact, while Lewis was guarding his man on the drive, Oden reached in ever so slightly and got called for what I believe was a cheap foul. Foul or not, it was unnecessary on Oden's part as it was committed in the middle of the pain nearly 12 feet from the basket.

* A 9-4 run before the 15:35 media timeout got Memphis back to within 49-47. It was clear the Tigers had the momentum because they began attacking with Oden off the floor.

* This trend continued until 12:39 in the first half. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored just two points in the first half, abused Ohio State defenders, especially Cook. Douglas-Roberts took the ball freely inside for 12 second half points. Only Hunter was down inside to stop him but his aggressive swatting tactics only drew more fouls.

* Down 56-51 with 12:39 left and Memphis seizing control by penetrating, Matta sensed it was time to return Oden to the floor despite having three fouls. As Oden returned, it was a huge Cook three-pointer with 12:25 that got the Buckeys back to 58-56.

* The biggest change in momentum came at that 9:43 spot with Ohio State down 60-57. Ron Lewis attempted a short mid-range jumper that fell off the front of the rim. The ball was tapped around and into the hands of Conley who was standing on the right wing. Quickly he found Oden standing right of the basket and triggered the ball to him. As Oden went up for a shot, Douglas-Roberts wrapped Oden up in a hug to stop him. The shot fell and "CDR" was whistled for an intentional foul. Oden was given two additional shots and the Buckeyes got the ball as well. After making one of two free throws, Butler penetrated on the possession and also got a shooting foul - making both shots. Just like that, Ohio State had a 62-60 lead and a five-point swing in less than 2 seconds.

* As big as that sequence was the foul situation for Memphis. The Tigers had at that point three players (Allen, Douglas-Roberts and Dorsey) all saddled with four fouls. As the game went to break with 7:31 left and OSU up 66-64, I thought Ohio State did a magnificent job attacking Memphis and the foul problems.

* 6:45 - Butler continued Ohio State's momentum with a dagger to the heart. As the shot clock wound down with eight seconds left, Butler stepped up from 25 feet and drilled a three-pointer. I thought it was a bad shot because there was time to get a better look, but the ice-in-the-veins look from Butler has been there all tournament long despite the selection.

* The deciding sequence likely came with 4:30 to 4:00 left in the game. After Oden and Hunt had traded baskets, Lewis, who has earned the title "Mr. Clutch" for now, canned a trey from the top of the key giving Ohio State a 74-66 lead. Oden was whistled for a fourth foul wtih 4:15 left - an unwise decision on his part as he was helping off from an opposite baseline and realistically had no chance at a block. However, Dorsey, who was back in the game, missed both free throws.

* Hunt hit big shot after big shot for Memphis on his way to 26 points. This includes 3:22 when a three got Memphis back to 76-69. Antonio Anderson also drilled a three to get within 78-72 at the 2:43 point but from there on, critical free throw shooting wrapped the game up. Over the last two and a half minutes, Ohio State connected on 18 consecutive free throws. The Buckeyes finished the game with 35-of-41 from the charity stripe - 85 percent.


* Although there were moments where Ohio State didn't execute perfectly, it was overall the best performance of the season for the Buckeyes. What's interesting is that for a team that was perceived to have scoring problems in a low-scoring Big Ten Conference, Ohio State's scoring outbursts (78, 78, 85 and 92) have gotten bigger and better as the tournament rolled along.

* There's no question that free throws and attacking Memphis on its defensive end were the two biggest keys to Saturday's victory. Anyone remember the last time you had to ask why Ohio State "lived and died by the three" this season? It's been at least a solid month, maybe two, since Ohio State has become an aggressive team that will penetrate and pass first; shoot second.

* For all the press Goliath got talking his talk, he sure didn't walk the walk. Dorsey was a non-factor the entire game. The only time he was an integral part of what was happening was when he was committing another foul. Someone was overrated in that game, but it sure wasn't Oden.

* You've got to be impressed by Memphis. A team that lost three leading scorers (Rodney Carney, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams) to professional basketball has rebounded with a 33-4 season. The Tigers are very young and have a bright future with Chicago sensation Derrick Rose arriving next year. You haven't heard the last of these cats. They're athletic, they have a great disposition and they're pretty deep.

* If Ohio State can cut down on the fouls and continues to play as aggressively as they have these last three weeks, I expect you'll see the Buckeyes make a great run at a possible championship this weekend in Atlanta. The Buckeyes are playing as well as anyone in the country, and certainly should be considered a threat to win it this weekend.

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