Ohio State used stifling defense combined with balanced scoring to race past Eastern Michigan 111-60 this afternoon in the Schott. Unfortunately, what should’ve been an easy day at the office turned into a queasy one after Evan Turner took a nasty fall midway through the first half and had to be taken to OSU Medical for x-rays on his lower back.
With OSU leading 15-5, Turner grabbed a defensive board and streaked up court. Reaching the top of the key, Turner shot through a wide open lane attempting a straight on dunk but the combination of being fouled and his hands slipping off the rim caused his feet to go out from under him and he crashed to the floor landing squarely on his back. The Villain would remain the floor for a few tense minutes before leaving the court under his own power. With the extent of my medical skills consisting of a few episodes of House, I hesitate to guess at a diagnosis but I do think the fall looked far worse than it actually was and with a week off before the Buckeyes take on Butler, Turner will certainly be sore in his lower right back and hip area but hopefully that’ll be the extent of it. Matta announced after the game that x-rays were negative.
With the bad news out of the way, the good news is the rest of the Buckeyes stepped up in ET’s absence and flat out buried the Eagles in an impressive first half display that featured numerous runs with none more important than the 12-2 burst to start the game showing the squad had no intentions of sleepwalking after the big win over Florida State on Wednesday night. OSU would hit 5 of 6 shots during the run including a Jon Diebler triple and a nasty baseline spin move into a fallaway jumper from the WB while the defense recorded four steals in the first 4 minutes as Matta kept EMU off balance rotating from man to zone defense.
After seeing zero minutes of action Wednesday, P.J. Hill was the main benefactor of Turner’s absence responding with 13 points in the final 5:28 of the half including a ridiculous hoop-n-harm drive in the closing moments of the half in which he kissed a high tear drop off the glass while being hammered by Jamell Harris.
That was just one highlight in a half that saw the Buckeye D force 17 turnovers (7 stl’s) while surrendering just 10 field goals and zero free throw attempts in what turned into a 62-25 halftime bulge. Offensively, OSU shot a blistering 64% from the floor (20/31) and 64% from downtown (9/14) behind Diebler’s 4/6, Lighty’s 2/3 and Buford’s 2/3 from distance. Excellent ball movement helped the hot shooting and balanced scoring as the first half stat sheet showed Diebler leading the way with 15 points while Hill (13), Lighty (9), Dallas (6) and Buford (7) all had strong showings. Looking to bust out of a five game doldrum, Buford also added six first half dimes in probably his best 20 minutes of the season.
Once the smoke cleared from the scorched nets (63% FG, 55% 3FG) in the 49 point rout, OSU had placed five in double figures led by Diebler’s 21 points. Hill set a new career high with 18 in 33 minutes while fellow reserve Jeremie Simmons had another strong outing adding 17 points in 23 minutes. Lighty had a solid all around game hitting for 16 (6/10) points with six boards, four steals and three assists though he had a game high four turnovers.
Amidst all that, what might've been most important was the play of Wil Buford as he slapped aside the five game funk with 16 points (5/11) and a career high 10 assists against zero turnovers in 25 minutes. Damn, son! Do work! We actually saw the WB smile for the first time in awhile.
The reserves saw plenty of action in this one after Thad shortened the bench against FSU but it’s really the same story. Hill and Simmons are having impressive starts to the season but the rest of the crew, outside of Madsen, shouldn’t expect to see many minutes against legit foes barring serious foul trouble. Madsen played only seven minutes today (3 pts, 3 reb) with Zisis playing 15 and Kecman 12. Kecman showed again he can shoot it a little (3/4 FG, 6 pts) and Z grabbed five boards and hit his only shot while racking up three fouls. A lack of defensive mobility is clearly the main reason both of these two won’t see much action this season.