All good things must come to an end for Ohio State. After traveling all the way to the National Championship, the dream ended Monday evening for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State (35-4) lost for the second time this season to the Florida Gators (36-4) 84-75 as Florida won its second consecutive National Championship.
It was the first time in 23 games Ohio State had lost. The Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten Title, had not lost since Jan. 9 against Wisconsin. It came one night after Ohio State lost in the BCS Championship game to Florida in football.
Much like the football game, Ohio State started the game in the first five minutes rather promising. However, Florida countered after being down 13-9 with a 12-2 run. The Gators stretched the lead to 11 points in the second half.
Ohio State made several small spurts in the second half, but never got closer than six points. When they did, Florida guards Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green responded with dagger three-pointers. Humphrey is the all-time NCAA Tournament leader in threes made.
The Gators were able to overcome a herculean effort by 7-1 freshman Greg Oden. Oden scored 25 points, 11 rebounds and blocked four points in what may be his final game as a college player. Oden is expected to likely declare for the NBA draft sometime in the next week, although reportedly a decision has not been made.
Even if Oden leaves, Ohio State should be in the preseason top five next season with the return of point guard Mike Conley. Conley said this week he would return to Ohio State for his sophomore season regardless of the result Monday evening.
Conley once again was excellent for the Buckeyes. In defeat, he scored 20 points an dished out six assists.
Oden and Ohio State hung around by forcing foul toruble on the Florida frontcourt. Chris Richard fouled out, Joakim Noah picked up four fouls and Al Horford had three. However, Horford also had several key baskets toward the end of the shot clock. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Green and Humphrey combined on 30 points.
Is it the last game for Oden? If so, it was a dominating performance to leave with. But Ohio State will have to await his decision.
Florida becomes just the eighth team ever to win back-to-back titles.