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Ohio State's Oden fails to stop Gators' title bid

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Ohio State’s Greg Oden was the most dominant player of the NCAA championship game on Monday, but despite his best efforts, the Buckeyes were unable to halt Florida’s bid for a second straight title.

Ohio State University Buckeyes' Greg Oden wipes his head during a break in play against the University of Florida Gators in their NCAA Final Four men's basketball championship game in Atlanta, Georgia, April 2, 2007. REUTERS/Hans Deryk

Florida ended Ohio State’s 22-game winning streak with an 84-75 victory, although Oden’s 25-point, 12-rebound performance left few people doubting his status as the nation’s top college center.

“We pretty much got everything out of Greg tonight,” Ohio State freshman guard Mike Conley told reporters.

“He played a great game. Helped us offensively and defensively.

“But, you know, our team needed to play as well as he was tonight by the way Florida was playing. That was the key.”

Oden, a 19-year-old freshman likely to be the NBA’s top overall draft choice should he leave school, hit 10 of 15 shots against a Florida team seemingly powerless to stop him.

“Greg really did a tremendous job,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta added.

“They chose to go with the single coverage. When teams do that, we need to make a couple more shots from the outside. It just didn’t happen for us.”

Ohio State hit just four-of-23 shots from beyond the arc, which allowed Florida to put more pressure on Oden.

Despite his domination, Oden’s slam dunks and at-times acrobatic offensive moves failed to lead the Buckeyes to their first national title since 1960.

Oden and his team mates were left sulking on the sidelines as Florida celebrated their second straight championship under coach Billy Donovan.

Matta said he had “no idea” if Oden would bolt for the NBA.

“My gut, I really don’t know,” he said.

“I think Gregory and I will sit down when we get back and kind of talk. The great thing about him, I know he hasn’t thought about it.

“You know, everybody kind of stuck to what we said we were going to do, and that was going to be to compete for the national championship. We got here.”