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July 9, 2005

ABCD: Big time battle

TEANECK, N.J. - Greg Oden and Derrick Caracter met up again at the ABCD camp and the marquee match-up packed the house while O.J. Mayo was completely shut down by the physical play of the bruising Paul Harris on Friday night.

At last year's ABCD camp, Caracter and Oden matched up in one of the most memorable games of the camp. Some say Caracter got the best of the 7-footer. Oden must have remembered because he went right to work on the 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward from Jersey.

Right from the opening tip, the two heavy weights went right at each other and the men in stripes knew it was going to be a battle. Both players picked up fouls in the first minute of the game. That doesn't really matter since players can't foul out but it did have a small role in the way the game was played.

Oden set the tone early. He scored over Caracter with a nice right handed shot after working hard in the blocks to get a good spot inside the paint. He's so incredibly quick to both sides that he keeps defenders on check at all times.

Not to be outdone, Caracter had a brilliant move on the baseline where he dribbled between his legs and spun back to the middle of the floor and lifted up a 12 foot jump shot that went over the outstretched hands of Oden. It was Caracter's best move the camp and it only teased those watching for more.

Oden went right back to work, scoring again inside and utilized his quick feet and nimble moves to get as close to the basket as he could. Oden then showed a nice baby hook over Caracter. Oden also went two of four form the foul line.

There were times it looked as if Caracter was frustrated in Oden's ability to get open in the post but it was Oden's patience that impressed. He never rushed his shots and kicked the ball back out if he didn't have a good opportunity to score. Credit Mike Conley, Daequan Cook and Jamie Skeen for also being patient and smart with the basketball.

Caracter had four fouls at intermission and four turnovers by our count. He was sitting on four points on two of six shooting. Oden had six points on two of two shooting.

In the second half, Caracter went at Oden in the post but had his shot blocked on one possession and then drew an offensive charge on another. Things did look up though on the offensive end when he went out to the perimeter and sunk home two three-point buckets. Caracter had a great pull up long ball and then almost faded away on another. Oden did his thing, scoring on three jump hooks.

Caracter finished with 13 points and four rebounds while shooting five of 13 from the field and two for three from deep. Oden ended with 12 points and four rebounds by the stat sheet and was five of seven from the floor and only two of five from the foul line.

O.J. Mayo vs. Paul Harris

In what could be called the undercard for the main event, these two guys went at it. And those that watched the game saw something most people haven't. They watched Mayo have a down right bad game. For a guy that's been doing just about everything right all year long, Mayo found his kryptonite in Harris.

Harris used his linebacker like body to play physical on Mayo and clearly rattled the nation's top rising junior. Mayo finished with two points on one of 10 shooting and zero for seven from deep all the while turning the ball over seven times.

Not a great shooter himself, Harris was one for seven from deep but ended with a team high 13 points on four of 12 shooting from the floor and four of eight from the foul line. He also struggled with turnovers, giving it up five times.

So what was Harris's secret? Just playing physical and Mayo took himself out of the game on the mental side of things. Even the great ones struggle and for Harris, the nation's toughest prospect, it was just another feather in the hat.


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