Buford, Diebler Vying To Replace Turner

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has to get increased production from a number of players to make up for the loss of Evan Turner. Two of them are William Buford and Jon Diebler, who turned in decidedly different performances in the team's first game without Turner.

With Evan Turner sidelined for an indefinite period of time, head coach Thad Matta has to look to a number of players to increase their production in his place.

Two of them took steps in opposite directions during Ohio State's eight-point loss to Butler four days ago. Sophomore guard William Buford stepped to the forefront and led the team with 20 points while playing all 40 minutes despite a back injury that had his status for the game in doubt right up until tipoff.

At the other end of the spectrum was Jon Diebler, who entered the contest as the team's leading active scorer at 17.1 points per game. Now facing the opponent's top defenders, Diebler was never able to get untracked against the Bulldogs and finished with seven points – tying his lowest scoring total all season.

Tonight begins a three-game home stretch for the Buckeyes after which they will head into Big Ten play. OSU tips at 7 p.m. against Presbyterian (Big Ten Network), a game in which the Buckeyes are hoping to tighten things up offensively as they continue to adjust to not having their leader in points, rebounds and assists.

It starts with Buford, who said he is aiming to take on a bigger role in the team's offense – but not just in the scoring column.

"He's gone and you can't take away what Evan was doing," the sophomore said. "We're just trying to come together as a team and get back what we lost because Evan was a big contributor to this team. I wouldn't say I'm trying to do more myself particularly. I'm just trying to get my teammates more involved."

His increased production came largely as the result of drives to the basket. Just one of his 12 shot attempts came from behind the three-point arc.

When Turner went down against Eastern Michigan, Buford shattered his career high in assists by dishing out 10 helpers in the victory. Against Butler, he had three assists but assumed the mantle of the team's go-to scorer for most of the game.

Matta described Buford as a player who is becoming a more instinctive player.

"He's growing," the coach said. "He's maturing. Will has a pretty high basketball I.Q. The game is slowing down for him a little bit more and he's waiting and letting things develop, which is the sign of a great player."

But asked to talk specifically about his own scoring abilities, Buford chose to focus on getting Diebler back to his previous scoring output.

"We've got to do a better job of getting Jon open so he can get shots up," he said. "Even though he didn't get shots up, he created opportunities for us because they were so locked onto him."

That might be an understatement. After hitting at least five three-pointers in each of his previous four games, Diebler's streak of making at least one trey in 19 consecutive games was in jeopardy until he hit in the waning moments against Butler.

He finished the game 2 of 7 from the floor and 1 of 4 from three-point range, and his shots did not come easily. Looking back on the game, Diebler said the goal was not to force shots that were not there.

"I think the goal was to play off of me and if they're going to take that away we're very confident in the other people that we have that can make plays," he said. "I think also I don't think I did a very good job of cutting to get open. I think I could've done a better job."

In the process, Diebler's scoring average dropped to an even 16.0. Matta said they are looking at ways to get him more room to operate.

"I think just a lot of different actions, but also playing off of him is a big thing if they want to lock on him like that," the coach said." I think that making him a screener, those types of things, so in essence it could turn into a double screen for us, will be things that we can look at."

It was a frustrating game, but Diebler has been through worse. As a freshman, he shot 28.9 percent (48 for 166) from three-point range and came under heavy scrutiny from fans expecting more production from the state's all-time leading prep scorer.

This time, the frustration for the junior came primarily from the final score, he said.

"Whether I get two points or 20 points, I would prefer to win," Diebler said. "I wasn't frustrated at the game because I didn't get many shots or didn't shoot as well as I wanted to. I was just frustrated that we lost."


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