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Once there, the Buckeyes held their composure after blowing a 12-point lead against cross-state rival Cincinnati, then knocked off top-seeded Syracuse to reach the Final Four for the second time since 2007, when Greg Oden led them to the national title game.

“We knew we had a chance to do something special, so we just wanted to try to keep our guys together,” Buford said of the meeting. “We let everybody know that we need each other and that we needed to keep uplifting each other and help each other out.”

Their season once on the brink of collapse, the Buckeyes are two wins from their first national championship in 52 years.