HALFTIME THOUGHTS: Florida rides hot shooting night to lead

With Florida running out to an 11-point halftime lead, let's revisit my keys to the game -- I think they're very telling as to why this game is a double-digit game at the break.

  1. Greg Oden vs. the referees: Oden has just one foul, and has been a force on both ends of the floor 11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and countless other shots altered. He's completely outplaying his Florida counterparts. Unfortunately for him and the Buckeyes, it's not making a difference in his team's performance. That's because ...
  2. Florida's 3-point shooting: ... the Gators are hitting so many shots from long range that it doesn't matter. They're 6-of-9 from the 3-point line, and that's the main reason they've got a 40-29 lead. In contrast, Ohio State is shooting just 2-of-12 from 3-point range. One has to wonder if the Gators can keep it up in the second half, but it won't matter unless OSU starts hitting some deep shots. Ron Lewis -- who I said earlier might have been Ohio State's MVP of the regional -- has been nonexistent. He's got to get aggressive and hit some shots if the Buckeyes want to have a chance to come back.
  3. Florida's defense on Mike Conley Jr.: Conley has been a virtual non-factor in the first half. He's finding gaps, but not finding any space to shoot. He's been so good at dictating tempo throughout this tournament, and did virtually none of that in the first half as he was saddled with a pair of fouls. Florida's Corey Brewer, one of the premier defenders in the country, has shut him down magnificently so far. Conley needs to start forcing the issue a bit, which might play right into Florida's hand.
I think Ohio State's got a good chance to come back, but it largely will depend on its perimeter defense. The Buckeyes simply can't let Florida have so many wide-open 3-point looks.

I'll be back after the game with a complete wrap.

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