We don’t cover a lot of the Buckeyes basketball unless it relates to Club Trillion who I think we all like to an unhealthy extent. (Tell me you didn’t laugh your head off at Mr. Rainmaker.) That doesn’t mean that we aren’t watching whenever we can, though. The Buckeyes have had an up and down season thus far due mostly to an injury suffered by “The Villain” Evan Turner. Turner got hurt on December 5th during a blowout win over Eastern Michigan 111-60. In all, Turner missed six games where the Buckeyes went 0.500, including losses to Butler, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The wins were all schools I had to look up because the abbreviations on ESPN didn’t mean anything to me. Well, except for Cleveland State, but that is only because I live here. Other than the Vikings, the Buckeyes’ only wins came against the Presbyterian Blue Hose, and Delaware State during Turner’s absence. Those wins, apparently, were not impressive enough to keep Ohio State in the top 25, but they are back now. Currently the Basket-Bucks are ranked 21st in the AP and 25th in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
The Buckeyes aren’t a one-player team, but their marginal effectiveness is definitely pushed to a different level by Evan Turner. David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford all score 13.3 points per game, while Dallas Lauderdale blocks 2.5 shots per game. That is pretty good all by itself. But when you ad Evan Turner’s 18.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists, they are a different team. Since Turner’s return, the Buckeyes are 3-4 with wins over Indiana, a 6th ranked Purdue team, and a 16th ranked Wisconsin team. Their sole defeat came at the hands of Minnesota on the road.
The victory over Purdue was an exceptional statement game for the Buckeyes as a team and Turner as a bona fide college superstar. Turner scored a career-high 32 points in a hostile environment against a team known for their ability to lock down on defense. On top of that, he scored 23 of his 32 points in second half. He really put the Buckeyes on his back, scoring 14 of their last 18 points to finish the game. The last four of those points were high pressure free throws to give the Buckeyes a two point lead each time. Hitting free throws like that on the road are probably the highest pressure situation that any college player can find himself in, and Turner had ice in his veins.
That bodes well for the tournament in March. I know we have a good amount of time until that rolls around and anything can happen in terms of injuries, but even the earliest projections are pretty promising. At CNN/SI they are already projecting Ohio State as a 5th seed in the East. Even with a wholly early prediction it is good to know approximately where you stand. If the Buckeyes continue to develop chemistry playing at a high level, they can improve upon that. The Buckeyes have 12 games remaining starting tonight at 7:00 PM taking on Northwestern in Columbus.
(Can’t rely on our sparse Buckeyes basketball coverage? Neither can we.)