"Our coach said February's a player's month," Turner said. "That's when the season's just really starting. Everything is in the groove right now and big games are coming. You either sink or you swim. We're prepared to swim."
Swim they did, as the Buckeyes used Turner as a life raft leading them to safety. Behind a dominating performance from the sophomore swingman, OSU (16-5, 6-4 Big Ten) knocked off No. 12/13 Purdue 80-72 in overtime to increase its Big Ten winning streak to three games.
Turner was magnificent as he exerted his will on the Boilermakers (17-5, 6-3), who were playing without third-leading scorer and preseason conference player of the year Robbie Hummel. He led the Buckeyes with 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists – all team highs, although classmate Jon Diebler also had seven assists.
"I'm just excited because I knew it was going to be a great game today," Turner said. "My teammates prepared hard, as well as I did, and we were just confident coming in. We knew we had the talent to match up with Purdue and pull out a win here."
The Boilermakers had no answer for Turner, who controlled the tempo of the game for nearly the entirety while playing all 45 minutes. On at least two occasions, he even manned the point guard position as starter Jeremie Simmons struggled early and was mostly relegated to the bench.
Turner got plenty of help from freshman teammates William Buford and B.J. Mullens, who added 22 and 17 points, respectively. But it was a Turner basket that appeared to have things iced with 1:45 remaining in regulation when he drove to put the Buckeyes ahead 64-59.
Purdue would counter with a three-pointer by Chris Kramer and a dunk from Keaton Grant sandwiched around an OSU turnover to knot the score with 1:05 minutes remaining. The Buckeyes got the first crack at winning in regulation, but Turner lost his handle on the ball after getting the ball with six seconds left on the shot clock and turned it over with 27 seconds remaining.
After working for a good shot, Purdue's Lewis Jackson misfired on a runner in the lane and the teams headed to overtime knotted at 64.
"I made a bad call there out of the timeout," Matta said. "It was probably the wrong thing that we needed to run. I didn't mind Evan getting the ball where he got it. We just couldn't convert. Defensively it was coming at us pretty quick. One of those deals of keep the guys in front, challenge the shot and don't let them get a tap in."
After the two teams traded baskets to open the extra period, the Buckeyes closed overtime on a 14-6 to pull away. Six of those points were scored by Turner, four of which came from the charity stripe.
For the game, the Buckeyes were 32 of 53 (60.4 percent) from the floor. No team had shot better than 43.1 percent against the Boilermakers this season, a figure put up by Wisconsin and Indiana State. Head coach Matt Painter had a quick answer for why the Buckeyes were so effective from the field.
"They have Evan Turner and William Buford," Painter said. "It's in the product. Those guys were fantastic, William Buford especially. A majority of his we were right on him. You can't let Evan Turner get to the basket. You can't let Evan Turner get to the free-throw line 14 times."
The game was a closely contested affair after the teams traded opening punches to get things started. The Boilermakers ripped off a 10-0 run after OSU scored on the opening possession, forcing Matta to call a time out and remind his players that the game had started.
They listened, and a subsequent 17-4 run made it 19-14 in favor of the home team with 10:14 left in the half.
"We just knew we had to get it together," Turner said. "We knew we couldn't let them keep dominating like that."
For the first time this season, reserve P.J. Hill saw more minutes than starter Simmons. Hill played 26 minutes and recorded six assists – both career highs – while Simmons had three turnovers and missed three shots in 18 minutes of action.
For as well as OSU shot the ball, Painter pointed to one statistic as the key to the game: the Buckeyes held a 36-19 advantage on the glass.
"Wow," Matta said upon seeing the final statistics. "Is that a misprint? (Credit the) coaching, I guess. I don't know."