Saturday, March 13, 2010
Turner, Buckeyes still alive after 2OT thriller
By Adam Rittenberg
INDIANAPOLIS -- Evan Turner isn't saving himself for the NCAA tournament.
The Ohio State star is building his legacy right here at Conseco Fieldhouse, hoping for a return trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in exactly three weeks. If Turner keeps playing like this, it's hard to imagine the Buckeyes won't be back in town.
After hitting the game-winning 37-footer Friday against Michigan, Turner went for 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in Saturday's 88-81 double-overtime win against No. 5 seed Illinois. Although he fouled out with a minute left in the second overtime, it didn't matter.
Teammate David Lighty came through in the closing seconds with a huge layup and Ohio State advanced to the Big Ten tournament championship, where it will face Purdue or Indiana.
It wasn't always pretty for Turner, who committed 10 turnovers and seemed frustrated at times. But every time Ohio State needed a big bucket down the stretch in regulation and in the first overtime, Turner provided it in dramatic fashion. Illinois simply had no answer for him.
The Illini now nervously will wait to see whether they earn an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Five victories against top 50 RPI teams and an excellent effort Saturday against Ohio State should be enough, but Illinois was so close to essentially putting itself in the bracket.
The Illini had two chances to win the game, both at the end of regulation and in the first overtime. And both times, they couldn't get off a shot before the buzzer. Their inability to create a look in the overtime session had to be particularly frustrating.
After missing his first five shots, Illini guard Demetri McCamey came through with 22 points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds. Illinois also got a huge boost off the bench from freshman forward Tyler Griffey (13 points, 5-for-7 shooting), but it wasn't enough.
Ohio State remains alive for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. It'll need a win Sunday, but with Turner on the floor, I wouldn't bet against the Buckeyes.