Any more questions about who should be the Player of the Year? I didn't think so. Evan Turner shook off a tough second half (2/9 FG, 4 TO) draining a 37 foot triple with less than a second left to give Ohio State a 69-68 win over Michigan this afternoon in the Big Ten tournament.
The shot solidified Turner's legend around these parts and was aided by the fact Michigan chose not to guard the inbounder (Lighty) even though OSU had just 2.2 seconds to work with and had to travel the length of the floor. The strategy allowed Turner to reach midcourt unmolested before he loaded up a jumper that kept OSU's conference post-season alive.
Despite Turner's heroics, it was far from a one man show today as four Buckeyes reached double figures. David Lighty complemented Turner's 18 points, eight boards and four dimes with 15 points (7/11) and five boards while Wil Buford overcame a slow start to add 15 points (6/13) and six boards. Jon Diebler was also a factor especially in the first half finishing with 11 points.
As we surmised, OSU came out flat at both ends and Michigan took advantage with an 11-2 run that took an 8-8 tie to a 19-10 Wolverine lead with 9:36 left in the half. The run saw the Buckeyes go on a six possession skid shooting 1/2 with four turnovers combined with slow transition defense and help side reaction to drives allowing buckets from marginal players like Zack Novak (2), Zack Gibson and Stu Douglass.
The light would come on in a big way over the final 9:36 as the Buckeyes woke up and unleashed fire and brimstone to the tune of a 25-6 run producing a 35-25 lead at intermission. The blitz featured a suffocating defensive surge that held Michigan to 3/9 from the floor with six turnovers (one a 10 second violation). The D helped ignite the offense as OSU caught fire hitting 9/13 field goals and 3/3 from the stripe with zero turnovers.
Diebler got it started with five straight points on a layup and a triple from the right wing before converting a conventional three point play five minutes later via a nifty lefty finish in the lane while drawing contact while Turner added five points and two dimes. Lighty (5 pts) and Kyle Madsen also came up big scoring four points in place of Dallas Lauderdale who was saddled with two fouls.
For the half, Turner paced the balanced attack with nine points (4/6) and five dimes followed by Diebler (3/5) with eight and Lighty's seven (3/4). The red hot Buckeyes shot 56% in the opening 20 minutes, assisting on nine of 14 buckets.
There was zero carryover of momentum from the closing burst as the second half saw Michigan use an 11-3 run behind three straight Douglass triples to cut the OSU to 42-38 before Lighty made his presence felt accounting for six straight points in what would become a 9-0 run building the lead back up to 51-38 with 10:28 left. Lighty's surge was comprised of a nice layup in traffic and another bunny off a putback of his own miss before a slick offensive rebound tip to Buford for a dunk following a missed three off the hands of Diebler.
Credit Michigan, however, as the Buckeyes simply couldn't put them away thanks to timely shots from Novak and Douglass along with the amazing performance of Manny Harris. The big time scorer was huge down the stretch scoring 20 points in the final 10 minutes but all it did was set up Turner for the amazing three pointer to win it as time expired. Unreal. What a great college basketball game.