No. 18 Ohio St. 78, Presbyterian 48
If this is what the future holds for No. 18 Ohio State without Evan Turner, then the Buckeyes have a lot of work ahead of them.
Jon Diebler scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers in a 14-0 run to open the game, and Ohio State beat Presbyterian 78-48 on Wednesday night.
But in the second half, the Buckeyes (8-2) were outscored 27-25 and appeared lost at times against an extremely young team playing man-to-man defense for the very first time.
``If you just look at it, that's their first time ever playing man-to-man and they hold us to 27 points, what does that say about us?'' said David Lighty, who led the Buckeyes with 20 points. ``It's just us being mentally tough enough to go out there and execute like we have in practice and don't let them control what we do.''
Turner, one of the best all-around players in the Big Ten, broke two bones in his lower back on Dec. 5 after his hands slipped off the rim during a dunk and he fell to the court. On Wednesday night he sat on the bench in street clothes, cheering and joining in the huddles.
``He was saying stuff the whole game, especially the second half, just telling us we have to pick up the intensity,'' said Diebler, Turner's roommate. ``It was good to have him there.''
Turner, who was averaging 18.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists, is expected to miss up to eight weeks, although he hopes to return after five or six at the most.
The Buckeyes shot 63 percent from the field and had just four turnovers in the first half, but shot 41 percent and had seven turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
``The first half we did a good job of being in more of an attack mode and the shots were falling,'' coach Thad Matta said. ``But the second half we just weren't as sharp as we needed to be at both ends. We're a team that our margin for error is not as high as one might think. Therefore, we've got to take a look at what we didn't do and try to get better at it.''
William Buford added 11 points and Dallas Lauderdale 10 for the Buckeyes.
Walt Allen had 13 points for the Blue Hose (2-9), who were paid $75,000 to come up from Clinton, S.C., for the lopsided loss.
``Obviously, I want to win but there are moral victories when you play the 18th-ranked team in the country with six freshmen, two sophomores and a junior,'' Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said.
The Blue Hose are in the midst of a five-year transition and will become a full-fledged member of NCAA Division I in 2011-12.
Ohio State had lost 74-66 at No. 22 Butler on Saturday in its first game after Turner was sidelined.
``As I talked to our guys Saturday after the (Butler) game, we'll see what kind of men we are, team we are, in how we come back out and play Wednesday night,'' Matta said. ``And I thought to start it they were pretty effective.''
The game was decided in the opening minutes, with Presbyterian failing to even hit the rim let alone make a basket in the opening 3:20.
The only previous time the teams met two years ago, the Buckeyes scored the first 16 points. They rattled off the first 14 on Wednesday night while the Blue Hose missed their first four shots and had five turnovers before finally getting on the board on Jay Reynolds' wide-open inside shot 5:13 into the game. Over the same span, the Buckeyes were 5 of 8 from the field including two 3-pointers, both by Diebler.
The Buckeyes shredded the Blue Hose zone to lead 53-21 at halftime, and Nibert reluctantly shifted to the man.
``I didn't have enough faith in playing man-to-man against them with such a young team,'' he said. ``At halftime we were left with no other answers because they had 53 points and we couldn't have done anything any worse. So we tried man-to-man.''
After the Blue Hose scored the first two points of the second half, the Buckeyes ran off 17 of the next 21 to build a 70-27 lead.
Still, the Buckeyes, despite the starters playing most of the way, mustered just eight points over the final 12:24.
``I'm not a yeller or screamer, I'm all laid back and that sort of thing,'' Matta said of his postgame comments to his players. ``(But) they have to understand that we need to be doing what we do for 40 minutes. As I told them, you look at the two losses we've had this year (Butler and North Carolina) and we've had letdowns throughout the course of those games. It wasn't as efficient as it needed to be tonight.''