It was the Evan Turner show during Ohio State's 67-62 win over the Fighting Irish in Indianapolis on Saturday. He completely dominated the second half, constantly going to the hoop and scoring 20 of his career high 28.
The Buckeyes will surely find themselves in the top 25 this week, after pulling off two road wins against ranked opponents.
Once again Ohio State got off to a slow start, allowing ND to jump out to a 8-2 lead with 5 minutes gone in the game. Luke Harangody shook off his recent pneumonia and scored 6 quick points in the opening minutes, but that 6 point lead would be the Irish's largest of the day.
After that, William Buford got the offense going by hitting two straight and closing the gap to 8-7. Buford played extensively in the first half, since Diebler got into early foul trouble. William added another 4 in the half and ended up with 9 points in 24 minutes, to go along with 3 boards.
Notre Dame would push the lead back up to 5 with 10 minutes left, but OSU scored 7 points in 25 seconds, fueled by Turner's 2 straight steals and took a 17-15 lead with just over 9 to play. Both teams would stay within 4 points of each other for the next 7+ minutes, but Buford hit a jumper and assisted on BJ Mullens' bucket to lead 30-26 with 48 seconds left and carried a 30-28 margin into half.
Before I go any further, I must first give due props to Luke Harangody. He just doesn't look like a baller, but he had 15 points and 11 boards at the half and finished with 25 and 16. The Bucks did a better job of shutting him down in the second and perhaps his recent illness effected his conditioning, but that dude can flat out play.
Ohio State held the Irish to 35% shooting in the fist half and Harangody was the only player to have more than 1 FG. The Bucks didn't fare much better, connecting on 3 of their first 15, but hitting 9 of the next 17 to finish at 38 percent.
It was great to see the Buckeyes come out with the same defensive intensity they displayed in the second half of the Miami game. They extended the match up zone to well beyond the 3 point line and slowed the Irish offense down with the constant 3/4 court token press.
For the second straight game, Evan Turner took over after half and willed Ohio State to victory. He scored the first 8 points and combined with BJ Mullens to score the first 18, leading the Bucks to a 50-41 lead with 10:23 left. OSU would push the lead to 10 with 6:54 left and then fought off a late Notre Dame rally, which had them within 1 with 29 seconds left, but Turner and Simmons hit 4 free throws in the closing moments to secure the victory.
As mentioned, Turner, playing the entire game, finished with a career high 28 points, to go along with 10 rebounds (5 offensive), 5 assists and was only credited with 2 steals, but had at least 4 by my count. He still turns it over a bit much, with another 6 on Saturday, but Chris is right, he is going to be all conference and with his second double-double in three games, you might hear whispers of POY. His sudden dominance is remarkable.
BJ Mullens continued his improvement, scoring 11 points, on 4-8 shooting and grabbing 7 caroms. He showed a couple of nice offensive moves in the low post and looks more and more comfortable on the floor. Him and Buford helped OSU outscore the Irish bench 20-5.
Good thing the bench showed up, because Lighty (2-10), Simmons (1-8) and Diebler (1-7) struggled in the empty Lucas Oil Stadium. The trio combined to shoot 2 of 13 from downtown, but chipped in with 15 boards and only 2 turnovers.
As expected, Matta shortened his bench, playing only 8 players. Dallas Swatterdale continued to impress with another 6 blocks, 6 points and 5 rebounds. Anthony Crater played 11 minutes and contributed 2 assists.
The Buckeye zone continued its puzzling looks and held their fifth straight opponent to under 40 percent shooting. The rebounding is getting better, as the Buckeyes beat ND 21-13 off the glass in the second and only allowed 9 offensive boards all game.
The Irish came in averaging 26 threepoint attempts per game, but OSU held them to just 7 of 19 and didn't allow Kyle McAlarney to make one, forcing him to go 0-6 from deep and 3-11 overall. Remember, he put up 39 against North Carolina and came in scoring 20 points a game. Tory Jackson was the only other player in double digits, going for 13.
The Bucks now sit at 5-0 and have a week off before facing undefeated Butler at home this Saturday.