Turner Returns to Lineup to help Buckeyes Humble Hoosiers
By John Porentas
Indiana had a moment, but just one.
The Indiana Hoosiers (7-7, 1-1 Big Ten) scored the first basket of the game against Ohio State (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten) at Value City arena. It was on a dunk by Jermiah Rivers to give the Hoosiers a 2-0 lead. It was just two points, but the play rankled OSU Head Coach Thad Matta so much that he took the unusual action of calling a timeout just 47 seconds into the game.
"We weren't ready to play," said Matta.
"There were a few things that we covered that were vitally important to us that we covered and that didn't happen on the first play," Matta said
Evan Turner drives with the basketball in his return to action against Indiana.
Photo by Jim Davidson
After that, it was all over but the shouting and the bus ride back to Bloomington. With the help of Evan Turner, who returned to action for the first time since injuring his back in December, the Buckeyes simply hammered the Hooisers. They used a 22-2 run to turn a 9-6 lead with 13:11 remaining in the first half into a 31-8 lead with 5:01 remaining. The only thing left to determine after the run was just how large the final margin of victory would be. It turned out to be 25 points as OSU won easily 79-54.
"We were not tough enough," lamented Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean.
"We played like a team in it's first road game," Crean said.
For OSU Head Coach Thad Matta it was quite a different story. Not only did his team break a two-game losing streak, both road losses in conference play, but Matta also got his star player back. Turner was able to log 20 minutes in his first appearance since his injury and contributed eight points, four rebounds and a game-high five assists. More importantly, his presence on the floor once again opened up things for other Buckeyes, most notably fellow guard Jon Diebler who suddenly found himself open once again after having a hard time getting open shots while Turner was out. Diebler was able to knock down the open shots to score a team-high 21 point. He credited Turner for a big part of his success. Matta agreed, and was very happy to get Turner back into the lineup.
"One of my all-time favorite lines from the Blues Brothers movie was 'It was good to put the band back together tonight,'" a smiling Matta commented after the game.
Turner's level of play was not quite up to the level it was prior to his injury, but he played as if he was not playing scared, and that's good news as he begins his comeback. He was actually knocked to the floor once but bounced back up. The play brought concern for some, but Matta said it had to happen sooner or later, and was glad that test of confidence was out of the way for Turner in his comeback process.
"I was glad to see him get knocked down and pick himself up which was huge," said Matta.
Turner said he began practicing last Thursday and Friday and felt good. He considered a comeback try for the Michigan game but said the OSU training staff recommend he sit out at least one more game.
"I'm really happy to be back," said Turner. "It got boring sitting on the couch."
"I feel perfectly fine. I'm just waiting for the next game."
Turner said he felt a bit rusty, but was confident he would round back into his pre-injury form quickly. That can only be good news for the Buckeyes who must travel to Minnesota for yet another conference road game in their next outing.
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