No. 5 Ohio St. 88, Illinois 81
Evan Turner has accepted his mission at this year’s Big Ten
He’ll rescue No. 5 Ohio State from any sign of trouble.
One day after making a 37-foot buzzer-beater in the
quarterfinals, Turner bailed out the Buckeyes again Saturday,
scoring 12 of his 31 points after regulation to lead Ohio State
past pesky Illinois 88-81 in double overtime.
“Coach (Thad) Matta and I always talk about if I get my
teammates shots I might find myself open a little bit more, and you
know maybe hitting more shots,” Turner said. “Sometimes you just
have to will your way and make things happen and that’s it.”
That’s what the Big Ten player of the year did on a wacky day in
The result: Ohio State will play in Sunday’s title game against
sixth-seeded Minnesota, a 69-42 winner over No. 6 Purdue, the
defending tourney champ. Ohio State, which shared the
regular-season title with Purdue and No. 11 Michigan State, is
trying to make its case for a No. 1 seed.
Turner finished with a rare triple double – 31 points, 10
rebounds and 10 of Ohio State’s 18 turnovers. Turner also had six
assists and two steals.
Still, Turner and the Buckeyes (26-7) almost didn’t get their
Twice Illinois had shots at the buzzer for the win. But Mike
Davis didn’t get a wide open layup off in time at the end of
regulation, and D.J. Richardson missed a long jumper after the red
lights lit up on the backboard at the close of the first
So when Turner got a third chance to save the Buckeyes, he
didn’t let them down. The junior swingman found Jon Diebler for an
open 3 to start the second overtime, then made back-to-back layups
to give the Buckeyes enough breathing room.
Turner played more than 14 minutes with four fouls and never
went to the bench until he fouled out with a minute left in the
game. He said afterward he still didn’t need a break.
“We were in it to win it – we could have went for 80 minutes,”
he said. “We were going to win the game, however long it
Illinois (19-14) heads home to mull over another close call and
whether its resume is strong enough to get one of the selection
committee’s 34 at-large bids.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously, I think we had
a good showing here, but that doesn’t mean anything,” said coach
Bruce Weber, whose voice was hoarse. “Hopefully, the word got out
because I think if we’re one of the top 65 teams in the country and
we get in the tournament, I think we can do some damage.”
Turner was unstoppable when it mattered most.
He tied the score in regulation with a nifty drive down the
baseline for a reverse layup. He scored the final eight Ohio State
points in the first overtime, tying it with a layup with 22 seconds
left, and then dominated over the final five minutes.
Diebler finished with 14 points, joining the Buckeyes’
1,000-point club. His fourth 3, just 15 seconds into the last
overtime, gave him a school record 273. Jamar Butler held the
previous mark of 272.
William Buford had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Ohio State has won six straight, 12 of 13 and has not lost to an
unranked team since Jan. 9.
Illinois was led by Demetri McCamey, who had 22 points, five
assists and four steals. Richardson had 15 points, and Davis had 13
points and 18 rebounds, one short of Greg Oden’s single-game
tournament record (19).
It was almost enough.
Ohio State endured two long scoring droughts, more than 7
minutes in the first half and more than 4 minutes in the second
half. The combination left the Buckeyes in a 45-35 hole.
That’s when Ohio State started to rally around Turner. He scored
seven points in a 20-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 59-50 lead with
8 minutes left in regulation and seemingly had the them headed
toward a rout.
Not so fast.
Illinois scored six straight points to get back in the game and
took a 64-61 lead when McCamey hit a 3 with 1:17 to go. Buford tied
the score with a layup, McCamey hit two free throws and Turner
drove in for the reverse layup that tied it with 12 seconds left to
Turner was just getting started.
“What a tremendous college basketball game and the turn of
events, the changes of momentum,” Matta said. “There were so many
guys making great plays, I can’t remember them all. They showed
great toughness to win this basketball game.