No. 5 Ohio St. 90, Minnesota 61

Evan Turner didn’t need any late-game heroics on Sunday.

When it appeared there was nothing more he could do to make his

Big Ten tournament performance better, the junior had 31 points and

11 rebounds to lead No. 5 Ohio State over Minnesota 90-61 in the

championship game.

Turner hit a 37-foot shot at the buzzer to beat Michigan in the

quarterfinals, then scored 12 of his 31 points after regulation in

a double-overtime win against Illinois in the semifinals. He topped

it by setting the tournament record for points in a championship

game and was the obvious choice as the tournament’s most

outstanding player.

Ohio State (27-7) made nine 3-pointers in the second half to

pull away after leading by just three points at halftime. David

Lighty scored 20 points and Jon Diebler added 19 for the Buckeyes,

who tied the record for largest victory margin in a Big Ten

tournament game.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta said Turner’s weekend was as good as

he has seen. The point guard averaged 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and

6.7 assists in three games.

Matta told Turner to take over the game, and he responded with

22 points in the second half.

“When you look at the body of work over the weekend, I mean,

this has to go down as probably – I know I’ve been in this league

for six years,” Matta said. “I’ve never seen anything like

it.”

Ohio State received a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional. The

Buckeyes will play Cal-Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA

tournament on Friday in Milwaukee. Ohio State was a team many

experts thought could draw a No. 1 seed, but the Buckeyes didn’t

mind where they ended up.

“It’s a good draw,” Turner said. “We’re close to home in

Milwaukee. We’ve just got to go out there and take care of

business, try and handle what we can control.”

Lawrence Westbrook scored 17 points and Devoe Joseph added 14

for the Golden Gophers (21-13), who had beaten Purdue by 27 on

Saturday.

Minnesota received an at-large bid, and the 11th-seeded Golden

Gophers will play No. 6 seed Xavier in the West Regional on Friday

in Milwaukee. The team gathered in a room at Conseco Fieldhouse,

unsure if it would get a bid. The Golden Gophers might have

persuaded the selection committee by beating No. 11 Michigan State

and No. 6 Purdue to reach the final.

“We came here and impressed a lot of people, I guess, and we

made our way in the tournament,” Westbrook said. “It’s a great

feeling. We broke a couch in there because we were all jumping

around and celebrating.”

They weren’t celebrating a Big Ten title because Turner did a

little bit of everything. He made four 3-pointers and several

acrobatic layups, and had six assists. After one layup, during

which he was fouled, Ohio State fans started chanting M-V-P.

Minnesota had won four straight games and seven of nine, but

struggled defensively for the first time in the tournament. The

Golden Gophers held their first three opponents to combined 36

percent shooting in the tournament, and had locked down Purdue in a

69-42 victory on Saturday.

Ohio State shot 58 percent on Sunday, but things started

slowly.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Turner and Diebler gave the Buckeyes a

24-18 lead and forced Minnesota to call time out.

A steal and two-handed jam by Diebler gave the Buckeyes a 28-21

lead, but Minnesota came back with a 3-pointer by Joseph at the

halftime buzzer to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 33-30. Both teams shot

poorly for most of the first half, but warmed up toward the

end.

The Buckeyes opened the second half with an 8-0 run.

Three-pointers by Turner and William Buford helped Ohio State take

a 41-30 lead.

Minnesota responded with a 7-0 spurt, highlighted by a 3-pointer

by Joseph, to trim Ohio State’s lead to 41-37 just over 4 minutes

into the second half.

Turner hit another 3-pointer, then Lighty made consecutive

layups to push the Buckeyes’ lead back to 11 points midway through

the second half, and the rout was on. The Buckeyes outscored

Minnesota 57-31 in the second half.

“When our minds are right, our game is right, and I think we

came out with the right mentality to go out and get the job done,”

Lighty said. “You know, they kept fighting, but we withheld and

kept fighting, as well, then things started falling for us when we

picked up the defense.”