March 21, 2010
MILWAUKEE (AP) -Nobody got a bigger boost than Ohio State when mighty Kansas tumbled and the Midwest Regional suddenly went up for grabs.
No way, then, that Evan Turner was going to have another bad game.
Turner shook off one of the worst shooting nights of his career by coming within an assist and a rebound of his third triple-double of the season, lifting Ohio State to a 75-66 victory over sloppy Georgia Tech on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Turner, a leading candidate to add national player of the year to his Big Ten honors, finished with a game-high 24 points.
“The better he plays,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said, “the better we play.”
The deeper into the tournament the Buckeyes (29-7) play, too.
With No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Georgetown and No. 4 Maryland all eliminated, Ohio State has its best chance of returning to the Final Four since Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. took the Buckeyes there in 2007. Ohio State faces sixth-seeded Tennessee on Friday night in St. Louis in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
“It’s good to get a win out of the way,” Turner said. “Now you just have to focus on the next one. You can’t really spend time celebrating.”
Jon Diebler added 20 points and David Lighty had 18 for the Buckeyes.
ACC Freshman of the Year Derrick Favors, who played just 5 minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, keyed an 11-0 run that cut Ohio State’s lead to 65-61 with 1:47 to play. Turner made two free throws, Lighty converted both of his after an intentional foul and the Yellow Jackets (23-13) never threatened again.
Beating the Buckeyes might have been a tall order anyway, but Georgia Tech (23-13) had no chance with Gani Lawal and Favors, their two leading scorers and rebounders, in foul trouble for much of the game. Favors, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds, fouled out in the last minute. Lawal, who had three fouls before halftime, had 11 points.
“It was really tough,” Lawal said. “Took us out of our rhythm.”
Turnovers didn’t help, either. The Yellow Jackets had 21 miscues, eight more than they had in Friday night’s victory over Oklahoma State.
The Buckeyes weren’t exactly careful with the ball, either. They had 18, nine from Turner.
“We were sloppy with it,” Matta said. “For Evan, with the nine, as long as he gets me 24 (points), nine (assists) and nine (rebounds), I’ll live with it. … When the time was needed, he delivered for us.”
UC Santa Barbara bumped and hounded Turner into nine points on just 2-of-13 shooting Friday night, and the Yellow Jackets didn’t give him much more breathing room. Two Yellow Jackets were glued to Turner every time he brought the ball up the court, with top defender Iman Shumpert – Turner’s backcourtmate in junior high – all over him.
But there’s a reason Turner is up for player of the year.
When the Yellow Jackets eased up on their suffocating press to start the second half, Turner and the Buckeyes simply took it to the Yellow Jackets. With Turner feeding them the ball, Lighty and Jon Diebler lit it up from outside and William Buford and Dallas Lauderdale pounded the ball inside.
As for Turner, well, he just hit from wherever he wanted.
A 3-pointer by Lighty sparked a 14-2 run that gave the Buckeyes a 46-32 lead with 12:47 left. A layup by Favors got the Yellow Jackets within 52-43 with 9:15 to play, but Buford followed his own shot and tapped home the rebound, and the Buckeyes were off and running again.
“I was just trying to take what the defense gave me,” Turner said. “I was trying to go at the right time and definitely just try to try my best to make plays and get everybody involved and definitely concentrate a little bit more on finishing shots.”
The Yellow Jackets did make that one last run, but it was too little, too late.
“The idea is to wear them down, but we saw what that pressure did for us turning the ball over,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “Some of the fouls we committed in the first half were silly fouls – the ones we stayed away from the latter part of the season and certainly Friday night. That made us a little tentative in the second half. We weren’t nearly as good.”
– Georgia Tech lost for the first time at the Bradley Center in the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets had won five straight NCAA Tournaments games at the arena, including wins over Houston and Southern California in 1992, victories against Northern Iowa and Boston College in 2004, and Friday’s win over Oklahoma State.
– The Yellow Jackets fell to 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 10 seed. Georgia Tech defeated Oklahoma State Friday, and lost as the 10th seed to UNLV, 67-63, in 2007. Overall, GT is 23-16 in the NCAA Tournament.
– Georgia Tech fell to 3-11 all-time against Ohio State. The Buckeyes last win came in a 65-61 decision March 17, 1991, also in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
– The Yellow Jackets went on an 11-0 run starting with 4:02 remaining and capped by a Derrick Favors conventional three-point play to cut the Ohio State lead to 65-61 with 1:47 remaining. The four-point margin was as close as Georgia Tech had been since the 18:01 mark of the second half.
– Georgia Tech’s Brian Oliver was called for an intentional foul with 1:13 remaining. Ohio State’s David Lighty hit both free throws to extend to Ohio State lead to 69-61.
– Georgia Tech forced four turnovers and held the Buckeyes to one-of-eight from the field over Ohio State’s first 12 possessions. The defense allowed GT to open up a 10-2 lead 6:19 in to the game.
– GT held Ohio State to 28 first half points, the 11th-fewest the Buckeyes have scored in a half this season, and the fifth-lowest in a half against a non-Big Ten opponent.
– The Yellow Jackets committed three turnovers and missed three shots in their first eight possessions of the second half.
– Georgia Tech’s 21 turnovers were the fifth-highest the Yellow Jackets committed all season.
Individual Player Notes
– ACC Rookie of the Year Derrick Favors played only five minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. Favors did not attempt a shot until the 15:04 mark of the second half.
– Despite his late entry onto the scoreboard, Favors tallied 10 points. It was his 27th double-digit scoring effort of the season, and his 11th in a row. The total was also his lowest scoring output since a Feb. 13 match-up at Wake Forest when he score four points.
– Junior forward Gani Lawal scored 11 points, the 26th time this season he has reached double-figures.
– Favors and Lawal combined to play 45 minutes. That total is nearly nine fewer than their combined average of 53.6 minutes per game.
– Freshman guard Glen Rice, Jr scored 10 points, nearly doubling his season average of 5.3 points per game. Rice scored six points on free throws, and added two made shots from the field. Rice finished the year with six games scoring in double-figures.