It appears that the return of Evan Turner was just what the doctor ordered for the OSU men's basketball team. Turner, who had not played nor practiced for the Buckeyes since fracturing two vertebrae in his back Dec. 5th in a game vs Eastern Michigan, scored 8 points and added 5 assists in 20 minutes of play as Ohio State rolled to a 79-54 win vs. Indiana at Value City Arena.
But it seemed that the impact his presence on the court had on his teammates was far greater than any contribution his stat sheet might have shown. Teammates Jon Diebler and William Buford were the biggest beneficiaries of Turner's return, with Diebler scoring 21 points on 6 of 10 shooting (including 5 of 8 from behind the arc) and Buford 16 himself. The Buckeyes attacked the basket all night long in a manner similar to the way Turner attacked it in the first two minutes. And if there were any doubts about Turner's back, those doubts were put to rest early in the first half as he threw down a breakaway dunk. Ohio State's defense gave Indiana fits, forcing them into 12 turnovers in the first half alone and 23 for the game. Even P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons, sharing duties at the point while Turner was recuperating, contributed to this lopsided win.
This was certainly a much need win for OSU after losing two of their last three, including starting the Big Ten season at 0-2, but the Buckeyes must not get complacent. After such a lopsided win their has to be some discussion about how good of a team Indiana is without their frosh phenom Maurice Creek, who was averaging a little over 16 ppg. In addition, Ohio State's next two games are on the road, where they have lost three straight, @ Minnesota and then @ No. 4 Purdue. If Ohio State is to have a chance in these games Diebler must continue to step up like he did tonight. One thing that has been apparent in Turner's absence is that Diebler has trouble getting his own shot; this may not be entirely his fault. There are some people who see Diebler as an overrated high school phenom who shoots too much; I like to think of him as a better shooting version of Chris Jent, someone we all know worked hard at both ends of the floor. Turner's absence not only means that their have been less drive and kick out opportunities for Diebler, but this also means opposing defenses have been putting their best defender on Diebler, thus limiting the open number of looks he has. And the other thing that I liked about tonight is the way OSU continually attacked the basket, especially William Buford and PJ Hill. If they can continue to do this it will not only lead to easy buckets for them but also increased opportunites for Diebler, Turner, etc. And to come home from their next road trip at least 1-1, the Buckeyes will need to make the most of all the opportunities they get.