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Auburn, OSU Making History

Auburn and Ohio State, teams without much NCAA tournament history in the '90s, have no history against each other.

They will meet for the first time Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn. Top-seeded Auburn (29-3) beat a tough Oklahoma State team 81-74 in Saturday's opening second-round game at the RCA Dome.

Fourth-seeded Ohio State had a much easier time, holding Detroit scoreless for nearly 10 minutes to open the game and then cruising to a 75-44 victory.

The Buckeyes (25-8) are enjoying one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball history after winning just eight games last season. They're in the tournament for the first time since 1992.

"This is a happy bunch of kids, and all I've been telling them is they deserve it," Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien said.

The Buckeyes will be looking for more effective shooting from Scoonie Penn in Knoxville. He was 7-for-27 in the two games here after bringing a 46 percent mark to the RCA Dome.

However, O'Brien remains confident that the 5-foot-10 Penn, who was voted the Big Ten Player of the Year, will quickly regain his former shooting touch.

"I don't know about him and all of the shots that he's missed. I still believe that every time he pulls up to shoot it, I think it's going in," O'Brien said. "I have confidence in him. ... I just like the idea that he's involved and he gets his hands on the ball."

Penn grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds, helping the Buckeyes out-rebound Detroit 51-25.

"If my shot is not on, I'm not going to be concerned," said Penn, a third-team All-American. "I can be a floor leader or a rebounder like I was today, whatever it takes to win."

Meanwhile, O'Brien will have to decide how he'll use Brian Brown. The coach put Brown in the starting lineup for both tournament games after not giving him a start all season.

Brown made life miserable for Aubrey Reese of Murray State in the opener and then tormented Detroit's Jermaine Jackson on Saturday.

Brown said starting makes no difference to him.

"I just want to go out and play good, hard defense," he said.

That's what he plans to do against Auburn, a team that dominated its opponents consistently and won 26 games by double-digits.

"Auburn is a good team and they are real physical," Brown said. "If we play as good as we played tonight (Saturday), we could probably beat them."

The Tigers, who haven't been in the tournament since 1988, will challenge the Buckeyes with a balanced offense that features four starters averaging in double figures.

And the Buckeyes will also have to keep an eye out for 7-foot center Mamadou N'diaye, who in two seasons has topped the school record for blocks in a career set by Charles Barkley.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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