Containing Oden

In talking to Tennessee's Duke Crews, you get the distinct impression that he is eager to face Ohio State superstar Greg Oden but considerably less than eager to discuss their previous meeting.

That's understandable. The 7-foot, 280-pound Oden dominated Crews (6-7, 233) and teammate Wayne Chism (6-9, 245) last time, outscoring the Vols' freshman post duo 24 to 9 and outrebounding them 15 to 7 as the Buckeyes prevailed 68-66 Jan. 13 in Columbus.

Crews' reluctance to discuss that encounter is obvious. Consider this exchange at the conclusion of a brief shoot-around Monday at Stokely Athletics Center:

Q: What do you remember about the earlier meeting with Greg Oden?

A: We lost by two points.

Q: What do you remember about Oden?

A: He's a big guy.

Q: He's a load, isn't he?

A: He's real big and he blocks shots.

Finally, when asked what he and Chism can do to produce a better matchup with Oden in Thursday night's NCAA Sweet 16 game at San Antonio, Crews opened up a bit.

"The biggest thing is keeping him off the offensive board," Crews said. "If we can do that we can limit his scoring. By making him receive the pass seven to 10 feet from the basket he'll have to shoot a jump hook instead of a dunk. If we can keep him away from the basket and off the offensive board I think we'll be OK."

The Vols discovered what happens when you don't keep Oden off the offensive board in the first half on Jan. 13. The big Buckeye was unstoppable in the opening 20 minutes, producing 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Vols managed to keep him from posting up near the basket after intermission, however, and cut his second-half numbers in half – 8 points and 5 rebounds.

"We were able to push him out away from the basket, not let him get comfortable," Crews recalled. "If you can limit that, you can contain him."

Bruce Pearl is acutely aware of how overpowering Oden was in the previous meeting. Tennessee's coach knows the Vols can't afford a repeat performance.

"We'll obviously have to make some adjustments in how we guard him," Pearl noted, "because he had one of his best games against our young inside players."

Still, Oden scored just two baskets while Chism was guarding him last time. Chism, who has since supplanted Crews as the starter, is a little better physical matchup for the Ohio State standout. Chism, however, is coming off a game against Virginia in which he picked up his third and fourth fouls within the first 30 seconds of the second half and sat out the next 15 minutes of action.

"Wayne and the fouls is definitely a factor," Pearl said. "I don't think there's any question ... Greg and the fouls and Wayne and the fouls (are keys to the game). They're not the same without Greg. We're not the same without Wayne.

"I think Wayne's probably been in a little more foul trouble than Greg has. That'll be a factor in the game, for sure."

Pearl said he'll speak with Chism about the importance of not committing needless fouls but will not make a big deal of it.

"I want him to continue to play his game and be aggressive," the coach said. "What I don't want is for him to pick up the cheap one."


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