Florida 79 Arkansas 72 - The Gators just keep winning. After capturing the NCAA football championship Monday night, Florida's #2-ranked basketball team held down a feisty bunch from Arkansas. While the Gators have lost only one home game this season, the Razorbacks proved a worthy opponent.
The game could have gone Arkansas' way had they been able to shoot better from behind the three-point line. The Razorbacks didn't hit a trey until midway through the second half and finished a paltry 2-15 (.133) on threes. Florida's free throw shooting down the stretch exposed a vulnerability as well. Both Taurean Green and Joakim Noah missed key freebies late in the game, but Arkansas was never able to cut the lead - which was never more than 9 - to less than 5 points. Green led the Gators with 17 points, while Darian Townes paced all scorers with 18.
The game was very physical, with a total of 45 fouls called on the two teams. Two Arkansas players fouled out, while Florida's Al Horford (10 points) was saddled with 4. A couple of three-pointers by Arkansas could have made the difference and the Razorbacks, now considered a force in the SEC after their upset of Alabama over the weekend, will seek a return to the SEC championship in March as they do not play the Gators again during the regular season.
Wisconsin 72 Ohio State 69 - The highly-anticipated matchup between the two best teams in the Big 10 lived to its billing as a tight, tactile struggle. Ohio State center Greg Oden picked up his 2nd personal foul just 12 minutes into the game and Wisconsin leading 19-13. But with their big man on the bench, senior forward Ivan Harris picked up the Buckeyes, cutting the Wisconsin lead to 31-28 at the half. Alando Ticker, the Badgers' 2nd leading scorer, put up only 7 points in the half on 3-9 shooting.
In the second half, Harris, who had hit 3 of 6 3-pointers in the first half, kept firing, but Kammron Taylor (25 points for the game) and Tucker responded and opened up a 6-point lead at the second TV timeout of the half, 47-41. Meanwhile, Oden had picked up his third foul and was spending extended minutes on the bench. While the Ohio State offense sputtered, Wisconsin went on a 10-0 run to lead 57-41.
Even when Oden was in the game, he was largely ineffective, going 0-4 from the floor with just 2 points on free throws when he picked up personal #4 (an offensive foul) with 7:57 remaining.
But the Badgers could not capitalize on the big man's foul trouble as they continually missed 3-pointers and committed fouls, allowing the Buckeyes to close to within 8 with 3:24 left. Tucker, however, scored a crucial bucket inside to hoist the lead back to 10 with just over 2 minutes left. Forced to foul down the stretch, Ohio State closed to within 2 on a pair of Ron Lewis 3-pointers and two Oden dunks, but the clock and Kammron Taylor's 5 of 8 free throws in the final minute sealed the Wisconsin victory.
Wisconsin improved to 40-2 in conference games under coach Bo Ryan. Alando Tucker picked up his game in the second half, scoring 10 points on 5-8 shooting. Greg Oden finished with 10 for the Buckeyes.
Elsewhere, #17 Clemson ran their record to 17-0 with an 87-76 win over NC State. #22 Notre Dame handed #21 West Virginia their first Big East loss, 61-58. #14 Alabama got back on track with a 71-61 home win over #13 LSU. Air Force, ranked 18th nationally, rallied for 41 second half points to overwhelm New Mexico, 65-57.