Playing in the NCAA Tournament is about doing whatever it takes for your team to survive and advance. Ten years ago, Ohio State’s Ron Lewis did just that. The Columbus native etched his name into college basketball history with a memorable shot against Xavier—a shot that breathed life into an Ohio State team that was on the heels of an early tournament exit.
The historic semblance behind the shot is bigger than the moment itself. Going forward, OSU played with the swag and bravado that would make Ric Flair jealous.
With a new level of confidence coupled with the team’s chemistry improving by the game, the then No.1 seed Buckeyes played up to expectations. They later defeated Tennessee, Memphis, and Georgetown to eventually fall short against the eventual two-time national champion Florida Gators, led by future NBA pros Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Corey Brewer.
Although the Buckeyes didn’t bring the hardware home, it was a memorable season, to say the least.
It’s hard to fathom that “The Shot” and the arrival of the Thad 5 (Othello Hunter, Daequan Cook, David Lighty, Mike Conley, Jr., and Greg Oden), was a decade ago. As time evolved, it’s difficult to ignore the what-ifs:
- What if Lewis’ shot would have fallen short?
- What if Conley and Cook had returned for their sophomore seasons?
- What if Greg Oden’s lone season in college deemed him as a failure due to an early tournament exit?
These are questions we don’t have to answer, thanks to Lewis having ice-water in his veins.
We took a trip down memory lane with the leading scorer of the 2007 NCAA tournament and former Ohio State Buckeye Ron Lewis, enjoy.
TSFJ: It’s been ten years since you hit “The Shot”, can you believe it’s been that long?
RL: Time flies, I can’t believe it’s been ten years. I remember the shot and the tournament run like it was yesterday. It was an unbelievable feeling.
TSFJ: In an interview with the Player’s Tribune, Mike Conley says he thanks you every day for making the three-pointer. He went on to say without that shot, his road to the NBA might have looked much different. How does that make you feel?
RL: It makes it me feel good. It’s humbling to hear other’s positive thoughts about you. Knowing that we worked hard as individuals and as a team makes everything sweeter.
TSFJ: In a way, you were overlooked because of the “Thad 5”, how did it feel to play the best basketball of your collegiate career when the world was watching the NCAA Tournament?
RL: It felt great, going into the tournament I knew our team was good. As a senior, I knew I had to set the tone for the Big Dance. As far as being overlooked, it was nothing new to me. I sort of went through that in high school (Columbus Brookhaven). Playing on a high school team with seven division one players, I had to fight and work my way to become one of the best on the court in high school. I adopted that same mentality in college.
TSFJ: Your Buckeyes were trailing by nine points with 2:54 left in the game, what was the team’s demeanor at the time?
RL: The team was looking for someone to step up at the time. Given that I had experience playing in that atmosphere the team turned to me for leadership. Being a senior I knew I wasn’t going down without a fight. During the time, I kept thinking we can’t leave with an early exit.
TSFJ: The great Gus Johnson eloquently stated, you refused to let your team lose, can explain your thought process nearing the end of the game?
RL: Prior to the start of the game, my brother, Lamont Carter repeatedly told me “Don’t let ‘em lose Lew.” With that ingrained in me, my thought process was to take over the game. (Lewis finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds and shot 80 percent from three) With us being a No. 1 seed, I didn’t want our memorable season to go down the drain.
TSFJ: Greg Oden’s foul on Justin Cage before the infamous shot was controversial, did you feel like your team got a break on the call?
RL: I don’t think we got a break, you could see on film multiple people were trying to foul him at the same time so that caused the extra force in my opinion.
TSFJ: What was going through your mind when Cage was at the foul line?
RL: I still thought we had a chance to win. I told Mike Conley right before the free throw, give me the ball. I just had that feeling it was meant to be.The Thad 5 was amazing, but the heart and soul of the 2006-2007 Buckeyes was the hometown hero from Columbus. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
TSFJ: The second free throw rattles out, and Ivan Harris grabs the rebound. Mike Conley retrieves the outlet pass, and you were trailing on the left side. Did you know the shot was going in when it left your hands?
RL: When it left my hands I knew it was good. I had the perfect form, perfect release, and I was focused on the knocking down the shot. Those are the shots you dream about as a kid, and that dream turned into a reality.
TSFJ: Coincidentally you hit the shot over your high school teammate, former McDonald’s All-American Drew Lavender, was there some trash talking afterward?
RL: Nah, there wasn’t any trash talk. There was a mutual respect between both of us as well as each team. Both teams fought hard and deserved to be in that position.
TSFJ: You had a 30-point game against UNC, a game-winning shot versus Tennessee, a game-winning block on Senior Day against No. 2 ranked Wisconsin, and of course, “The Shot”, where do you rank “The Shot” among your best moments during your senior season?
RL: It’s at the top for sure, the other plays were crucial moments and games in my career but this one goes down as number one because of everything that was on the line. Some player’s careers were lifted and adjusted just because of the shot against Xavier.
TSFJ would like to thank Ron for the interview. To keep up with him and his professional basketball career overseas follow him on Twitter @Lew_100.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp