Buckeyes Could Get Turner Back For IU

The Ohio State men's basketball team could receive a boost when it returns home Wednesday night to face Indiana in the form of junior point guard Evan Turner. Initially thought to be out for the rest of the month with broken vertebrae in his lower back, Turner could potentially return for the game against the Hoosiers, head coach Thad Matta said.

Ohio State guard Evan Turner could return to action as soon as Wednesday night's home game against Indiana, head coach Thad Matta said today.

"I would hope, but I wouldn't count on that," the coach said when asked if Turner could play. "There's just so much that has to go into it from the standpoint of No. 1 how much can he do, No. 2 what does he feel like (Wednesday) if he does an ample amount tonight."

Matta was first asked Monday about Turner's availability for the game against the Hoosiers. He said Turner would be undergoing an X-ray or an MRI later that day and did not rule him out of the game, saying, "I don't think so, no" when asked if Turner would be playing.

Later that evening on his radio call-in show, Matta said he had not yet seen the X-ray taken earlier that day.

Tuesday morning, The Columbus Dispatch reported that a source close to the team said that Turner could play against Indiana depending on how he responded to participating in Tuesday's team practice. As of Tuesday morning, Matta said he was not sure how much – if at all – Turner would go live in that evening's practice.

Matta said he would not have any update following the team's Tuesday practice and added that any sort of decision about Turner's availability would not be made until game time. Throughout the process, the coach has said that Turner will not play until he is cleared by the team's medical staff.

"I'm not a doctor, but where the cracks are, what happens is bone grows back around it, closes it back up," Matta said. "That all looks good from what I got (Monday) night."

However, the coach added that the process is not complete and that bone is continuing to formulate around where the cracks are.

Until this point, Turner has been limited to running in a pool and doing non-contact drills in practice. Should he shoulder a more strenuous workload in Tuesday's practice, Matta said the real test will be to see how Turner feels the following day.

"I think it's more along the lines of after is what I need to see, just how he feels and how his body reacts," Matta said. "That would be more the next morning. Running in a swimming pool and running up and down the basketball court are two completely different things. He always feels good when he comes out of the swimming pool."

Turner, the team's leader in points, rebounds and assists, suffered two fractured vertebrae in his lower back following a missed dunk attempt in the first half of a Dec. 5 game against Eastern Michigan. The initial prognosis was that the junior could stand to miss as many as eight weeks of action, setting himself up for a return to the court Jan. 31 at home against Minnesota.

However, Turner has insisted all along that he would beat that timetable. Matta said Turner's plan has been to return for either Saturday's road contest at Minnesota or a Jan. 12 road game against Purdue.

Without him, the Buckeyes have struggled. OSU was 7-1 including the game in which Turner went down but has since gone 3-3. The team's scoring average has dipped 24.1 points in the last six games compared to where it was following the Eastern Michigan game, while rebounds, assists, scoring margin and shooting percentage are all down across the board.

Junior guard Jon Diebler – who is also Turner's roommate – said having Turner on the court changes how the Buckeyes look.

"Yeah, he fills up the stat sheet but the little things that don't show up on the stat sheet that you might not notice unless you really watch the film, those things are what really make us go as a team," Diebler said. "He's one of the best players in college basketball."

Despite the injury, Turner was named on a list of 31 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to college basketball's best player. The list normally contains 30 players but was amended to give a spot to Turner.

This season, Turner is averaging 18.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

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