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Last updated: 03/14/2011 2:30 PM

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Men's Basketball
The Turning Point - Big Ten Tournament Championship Game
By Tony Gerdeman

Penn State's Talor Battle got started quickly yesterday, making two three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game against the Buckeyes to give Nittany Lions an early 6-5 lead.

But then Jon Diebler wasted no time connecting on a three-pointer of his own, giving the Buckeyes their second lead of the game at 8-6 with 16:56 left in the game. Despite a couple of Penn State runs, that lead would never be relinquished.

There was no way to tell that that slim lead would never be breached, especially considering the offensive drought the Buckeyes went in late in the second half. Ohio State went nearly six minutes without scoring, letting ing a seven-point lead turn into a one-point lead.

But the Buckeyes closed strong, as they tend to do. With the final possession of the first half, Diebler attempted to find some room for a last-second three-pointer, and when he couldn't find any, he decided to shoot anyway, and he made it. He turned a 26-23 lead into a 29-23 lead and gave Ohio State the momentum heading into halftime.

“The shot before the half was a big shot by Jon Diebler, kind of got them a little momentum,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said.

“I've been watching him do it all year now, whether it's in practice or in games like that,” said Aaron Craft. “He's a big time player and he made a big time shot.”

While it certainly gave the Buckeyes a boost, it also sapped any momentum that was on the side of the Nittany Lions.

“It was a big shot,” admitted Penn State's Jeff Brooks.

“When I got taken out of the game to give me a little rest and he makes that shot, I could just tell that they got that momentum going for themselves, especially Diebler, that was a big shot for him and that got them going for the second half. That was a big play, and he's a good player. That's why he made that shot.”

When the opponent talks about one singular shot, you know it made a difference in the game, but Diebler wasn't done. The second half opened with two empty possessions followed by a run-out that saw Aaron Craft find Diebler alone in the corner in transition, and Diebler made the Nittany Lions pay with yet another three-point field goal.

What just a few virtual minutes ago was a three-point lead was now a nearly insurmountable nine-point lead, and any Penn State hopes were almost completely dashed.

Those two three-pointers by Diebler were most certainly the turning point in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game.

“It was a huge momentum boost, especially because I thought we defended him pretty well,” Talor Battle said of Diebler's first three-pointer. “We were scrambling, I was right there in his face, and he just knocked it in. It took the lead from three to six and gave them a little momentum going into the half, and then he buries one right at the start of the second half.”

It's difficult to muster up a comeback when the opponent has consistently timely answers. That's what happened to Penn State. The Buckeyes went cold for a long stretch of the game before Diebler's three-pointers. but those two baskets fueled a Buckeye stronghold on the lead that eventually saw them stretch their advantage to 17 points several times before finally winning by eleven.

“I think we're very hard to match up with for other teams for their defense,” said Diebler, focusing on his team rather than himself. “We've got a lot of guys who can make plays.”

But even if he won't talk about himself, he has teammates who will.

“It's ridiculous some of the shots that he makes,” said Craft.

“He does it in practice, and when we'll be playing one-on-one in the summer. Every time he makes one I get really excited and happy.”

They say every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and if his teammates are “excited and happy” when Diebler makes a three-pointer, just imagine what it does to his opponents.

Actually, you don't even have to imagine. You merely have to watch the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game again.


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