Big Ten Tournament, Quarterfinals: Turner dominates the final minutes as Ohio State tops Wisconsin
Ohio State vs Wisconsin
Wisconsin couldn't afford to play one-on-one basketball. Ohio State, on the other hand, had Evan Turner. As a result, a Buckeye bunch that found itself in deep trouble late in the second half was able to turn things around and cement its status as an NCAA Tournament team.
Led by Turner, Ohio State surged in the final six minutes of regulation to soar past the Badgers, 61-57, in the second quarterfinal of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday in Indianapolis. The first 34 minutes produced a 54-47 Wisconsin advantage, but then the Buckeyes' star performer simply took his teammates along for a very successful ride. As a result, coach Thad Matta's men will stare down Michigan State in Saturday's first semifinal at Conseco Fieldhouse; more importantly, Selection Sunday will be a sweat-free occasion in Columbus, as last year's NIT champions will happily allow someone else to win the event informally known as the "Little Dance." This year, OSU will put on its big-boy dancing shoes, all because Turner turned the tide in the 4-5 quarterfinal against Bo Ryan's boys.
Wisconsin slowly but surely forged a seven-point lead as the second half wore on, hitting a few more free throws and, more importantly, imposing its team-based brand of ball on the slightly sluggish Bucks. Every Badger made himself hard to guard at the offensive end, using pump fakes and ball fakes to create small but significant amounts of space. Wisconsin attacked the basket and created open looks for its shooters, keeping OSU's defense off balance. Because no white-shirted player stood around, the fourth seed from Madison kept its nose in front for most of a game that was extremely even on the stat sheet. By doing little things well, Wisconsin carved out some separation at the six-minute mark of regulation time. The Buckeyes were hardly getting blown out, but they needed a big response in order to catch and then pass a Wisconsin team that can make a seven-point deficit feel more like a 17-point bulge.
It was at this time that Evan Turner said, "Enough!"
The elite forward, long and powerful yet silky-smooth as well, was the one man on the floor who could consistently break down a defense in mano-a-mano matchups. Matta wisely isolated Turner at crunch time, and his star player didn't disappoint.
In response to Wisconsin's three-possession lead, Turner scored 6 points in those final six minutes, while also handing out a huge assist to fuel the Buckeye bounce-back. By finishing near the rim and playing over the top of the Badger defenders who were thrown at him by Ryan, Turner had a ready answer for every query posed by Wisconsin as the hour grew late in Indy. A big assist to sniper Jon Diebler produced a 3-point shot that gave OSU a 55-54 lead with 2:25 left in the game. Later, Turner worked past his man to release a four-foot leaner that bounced through the bucket for a 57-55 Buckeye lead with just 53 seconds left. When Ohio State guard P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons added four free throws just moments afterward, the fifth seed's held up, and a semifinal date was set against big, bad Sparty.
The other aspect of this Buckeye victory that has to be mentioned is Wisconsin's big fade in the final six minutes, a wrong turn that--unfortunately for the Badgers--occurred at the same time that Evan Turner ramped up his game.
Remember the team-style basketball Wisconsin used to build its seven-point spread? That vanished when the tension escalated in this consequential Conseco collision. Bohannon, so tireless in working for better angles on the perimeter of OSU's defense, started to pound the ball into the floor and hoisting long shots off the dribble. Bohannon's backcourt mate, Trevon Hughes, did the same thing. All in all, the Badgers failed to hit a single field goal attempt in that final, fatal six-minute stretch because they fell in love with the dribble and the long three, instead of using passes and screens to outmaneuver OSUs defense and force the Buckeyes to desperately keep up with crisp ball movement.
It all comes back to the bottom line: Wisconsin couldn't play one-on-one ball, but did; Ohio State could deal with isolation situations, and Evan Turner proved as much when his team needed it most. Now, if Turner can continue to carry his brother Buckeyes on his back, the kids from Columbus could give Michigan State a run for the money tomorrow afternoon.