Florida wins second straight NCAA crown
Tue Apr 3, 2:12 AM ET
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Florida overcame an inspired effort by freshman sensation Greg Oden to defeat Ohio State 84-75 on Monday and win its second consecutive basketball championship.
The Gators (35-5) became the first team to win back-to-back titles since Duke in 1991-92 and only the second since UCLA's magical run of seven straight ended 34 years ago.
"I sit up here very, very humbled because I think I was fortunate enough over the last two years to coach a group of guys that has to go down in history as one of the greatest teams of all time," said Florida coach Billy Donovan.
"I'm not saying they were the most talented. I'm not saying they were flawless. But when you talk about the word 'team,' what that encompasses in terms of unselfishness, sacrifice, playing together, they have got to go down and be considered .... one of the best teams to ever play."
Oden, likely to be the top choice in the June NBA Draft should he leave school, scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds as Ohio State dominated the points around the basket 48-22.
But the Buckeyes were miserable from long range, hitting just four-of-23 from beyond the arc.
"It was frustrating," said Ohio State guard Ron Lewis, who misfired on all four of his three-point attempts.
"You're trying to get back in the game, you're out there shooting, thinking it's about to fall for you. But it's not going in."
Florida built a 40-29 advantage at intermission and never let Ohio State trim the lead below six the rest of the way.
The Gators hit 10-of-18 three-point shots to snuff out any chance of a Buckeyes comeback. Each time Ohio State looked primed to make a run, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green or Lee Humphrey would nail a shot from beyond the arc.
"They just did an incredible job of making threes," said Buckeyes coach Thad Matta.
"That was one of the things that we wanted to home in on and try to take away. But they just hit a couple of them freakish type threes that just were daggers for us."
With the victory, the Gators became the first school to win both the basketball and football championships in the same year. Florida thrashed Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS title game.
Al Horford scored 18 points and hauled in 12 rebounds to lead the Gators. Green added 16 points, hitting all three of his three-pointers, while Humphrey added 14 points.
"We worked as hard as we possibly could as a basketball team this year," said Donovan. "If we would have come up short I wouldn't have had any regret, and they shouldn't have either because I felt like we did the very, very best we can."
Ohio State (35-4), which had its 22-game winning streak snapped, won its only basketball title in 1960 when the Buckeyes pounded California, 75-55.
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