- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

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ATLANTA — If this was Roy Hibbert’s last game at Georgetown, the junior center left in impressive fashion.

The 7-foot-2 center matched Ohio State All-American Greg Oden when he was in the game and was only limited by foul trouble. Oden, a freshman expected to be the first pick in the NBA Draft whenever he comes out, called Hibbert the toughest player he has played against.

“He shot over me a bunch of times, so you can see what he can do,” said Oden, who also dealt with foul trouble and scored 13 points in 20 minutes. “He’s big. That is how he got his shots.”

It wasn’t exactly the battle many had hoped for since neither played more than 24 minutes. However, Hibbert displayed excellent footwork going around Oden and getting good looks on his hook shots. And Hibbert proved to be a major obstacle in front of the Buckeyes’ big man.

Oden countered with athleticism and explosiveness, but the monumental matchup was largely a push.

“I think we complement each other out there. I don’t know if he will say that, but I felt it was good battle,” Hibbert said. “It was a fun game. I would play that game over and over and over. I would play different cards though.”

Georgetown’s big man, who has transformed from a gawky freshman into a refined junior, went 9-for-13 from the field and had 19 points and six rebounds. He picked up his fourth foul with 8:50 remaining in a tie game and was out as the Buckeyes built their lead. Hibbert did hit a 17-foot jumper to cut Ohio State’s margin to 54-48 and used a hook over Oden to make it 56-50 with 4:24 remaining.

However, it wasn’t enough. He missed an inside shot with his team down 58-52, and David Lighty’s three-point play pushed the lead to nine and sealed the game with 1:41 left.

“Roy did the best he could,” Hoyas guard Jonathan Wallace said. “He was facing all types of adversity. There were calls, double-teams and so forth. He did the best he could. He was trying to be active and make things happen for us.”

Hibbert has watched his team win before with him on the bench, but last night teammate Jeff Green struggled to find his shot, and the Buckeyes were able to convert in transition. And top-ranked Ohio State took advantage of the void in the middle of the Hoyas’ defense.

“I believe in my teammates,” he said. “They have pulled us through tough times. In the Vanderbilt game, Jeff hit a big shot [to win the game], and others have hit big shots. I have to do a better job staying out of foul trouble. For me to be a better player, I have to learn.”

And Hibbert left the Georgia Dome for perhaps the last time as collegiate player after showing he can match up with the game’s best. Hibbert is forecast as an NBA lottery pick if he leaves school early, but he insisted he has made no decision about his future.

“I am all about Georgetown,” he said. “I am not making any decisions right now. It’s been like 45 minutes since we lost our last game. I will talk it over with my family. Right now, I am still a Georgetown Hoya.”

Although his showing against Oden may change that.

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