Sunday, March 14, 1999

OHIO STATE 75, DETROIT 44


Sweet 16 even sweeter for Buckeyes

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDIANAPOLIS — The Ohio State Buckeyes were dancing and singing and tossing ice around the locker room and water on their coach.

        It was a postgame celebration that Jim O'Brien — soaked shirt and all — said he will never forget. Neither will his players.

        “We kind of let loose a little bit,” O'Brien said. “I am happy to see our kids be as happy as they are.”

        “It was chaotic in here,” junior Scoonie Penn said. “We have guys on this team that have really never won anything. To be in this situation feels so good, and guys just didn't know how to control themselves.”

        A team that was 8-22 a year ago has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

        In convincing manner.

        Ohio State's remarkable turnaround continued with an overwhelming 75-44 victory over Detroit Mercy Saturday before a mostly pro-OSU crowd of 32,758 at the RCA Dome.

        The Buckeyes (25-8), the No. 4 seed in the South Region, will meet Auburn on Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn. OSU's last Sweet 16 appearance was in 1992, also the last time it went to the NCAA Tournament.

        “We definitely want to do more,” sophomore Michael Redd said. “We don't want to lose. We don't want to stop at the Sweet 16.”

        Detroit entered the NCAA Tournament No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense and No. 3 in field goal percentage defense.

        Defense, however, was not the problem early in the game.

        The Titans did not score for the first 9:48 of the game, missed their first 13 shots from the field and fell behind 12-0.

        “Right from the beginning our energy was there,” Penn said. “We had good pressure on them. You could tell they really weren't in sync. They weren't hitting their shots. They weren't running their offense.

        “We saw they were getting a little frustrated.”

        The Titans missed their first nine three-point attempts and only got into double digits with two three-pointers in the final 1:13 of the first half.

        Ohio State, which led 25-12 at intermission, wasn't exactly burning up the nets either. The Buckeyes were just 7-of-27 (.259) in the first half, but they shot 58.8 percent in the final 20 minutes and finished 10-of-21 from three-point range.

        The Detroit players were dancing at midcourt before the game started. By halftime, they were shaking their heads and sporting looks of frustration.

        They got a little swagger back early in the second half after pulling within 11 points. But OSU responded with an 11-0 run.

        The lead was 40-18. The Titans never got closer than 17 the rest of the way.

        As a well-known former Detroit coach might say: “It was Rout City bay-bee!”

        “This game was not about just being happy we won,” O'Brien said. “I thought we played very well. We were terrific defensively.”

        Redd, who carried OSU offensively two nights earlier with 27 points, scored just two first- half points on 1-of-6 shooting but finished with 15.

        Penn also had 15 points — 10 in the first half — and a career-high 12 rebounds. Ohio State finished with a 51-25 rebounding advantage.

        “It really is awesome,” Redd said. “It's hard to believe. My voice is hoarse right now from all the yelling in the locker room.”

        Detroit, which advanced with a 56-53 upset over UCLA on Thursday, finished 25-6, tying a school record for victories in a season. Its eight-game winning streak come to an end.

        Rashad Phillips, the Titans leading scorer (16 ppg), finished with only nine points. Senior Jermaine Jackson, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Player of the Year, scored a game- high 18 — 16 in the second half.

        The 12th-seeded Titans were eliminated in the second round for the second straight season by a Big Ten Conference team; last year it was Purdue.

        “We just didn't play well,” coach Perry Watson said. “I wish that we could have played as well as I know we could because we had a great year.”

Ohio State Stories
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DETROIT (44)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Ferguson        34  2-12   0-0   0-3  0  3    6
Alexander       32   3-8   0-0   1-4  0  2    6
Craft           11   1-4   0-0   2-3  0  1    2
Phillips        33  4-10   0-0   0-0  3  3    9
Jackson         36  5-12  6-10   0-4  1  2   18
Austin           1   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Whye            26   1-4   0-0   0-4  1  2    3
Van Dyke        10   0-0   0-1   1-2  1  0    0
Belin           16   0-1   0-1   0-1  0  2    0
Howard           1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 16-52  6-12  4-21  6 15   44
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.308, FT-.500. 3-Point Goals: 6-25, .240 (Ferguson 2-10, Phillips 1-4, Jackson 2-6, Austin 0-1, Whye 1-3, Belin 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 8 (Jackson 3, Phillips 3, Alexander 2). Steals: 5 (Alexander 2, Belin 2, Jackson).

OHIO ST (75) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Redd 26 7-15 0-0 2-3 2 2 15 Singleton 28 3-3 1-2 3-5 1 3 7 Johnson 28 2-4 4-4 0-3 0 1 8 Penn 30 5-15 2-2 0-12 2 4 15 Brown 30 3-4 0-0 1-3 4 2 9 Savovic 24 2-7 0-0 1-4 2 2 6 Smith 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0 Steele 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 Sanderson 13 1-5 3-6 4-5 0 2 6 Reese 17 2-6 1-2 7-15 0 1 5 Herron 2 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 27-61 11-16 18-51 13 17 75 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.443, FT-.688. 3-Point Goals: 10-21, .476 (Redd 1-3, Penn 3-8, Brown 3-3, Savovic 2-6, Sanderson 1-1). Team rebounds: None. Blocked shots: 6 (Johnson 5, Singleton). Turnovers: 7 (Redd 2, Brown, Johnson, Penn, Reese, Savovic). Steals: 4 (Singleton 2, Penn, Reese). __________________________________ Detroit 12 32 - 44 Ohio St 25 50 - 75 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 32,758. Officials: John Cahill, Tom Lopes, Tom Harrington.