Buckeyes Drop Another Road Contest

Evan Turner managed to get back in the lineup in time for his team's road trip to Minnesota, but it proved not to be enough to help his team pull out a victory. A rash of second-half turnovers doomed the Buckeyes to a 73-62 defeat against the Golden Gophers. Turner led the team with 19 points.

Evan Turner had never won at Minnesota. After going down with a back injury, the Ohio State junior point guard pointed to his team's road contest with the Golden Gophers as a game he wanted to return for so he and his teammates could break that streak.

He'll have to come back for his senior season if he wants to accomplish that feat. The Buckeyes saw a one-point halftime lead quickly evaporate in the opening minutes of the second half and never mounted a serious challenge the rest of the way, dropping a 73-62 decision to the Golden Gophers at Williams Arena.

The loss drops the Buckeyes to 1-3 in the Big Ten and 11-5 overall, having dropped four of their last eight games.

"Turnovers hurt us a little bit early but we got our feet went, and at the start of the second half they came out and blitzed us." OSU assistant coach Jeff Boals told the Ohio State Men's Basketball Radio Network. "We had a couple (early) turnovers and we were begging and scratching from there on out."

OSU had increased its lead to three points in the early going of the second half, but Minnesota (12-4, 3-1) turned up its defensive pressure by instituting a full-court press.

It befuddled the Buckeyes, who committed turnovers on four consecutive possessions. Once they figured out how to break it, they went cold from the floor.

"It was a run-and-jump press trying to get the ball out of Evan's hands and speed the game up," Boals said. "Our spacing wasn't where it needed to be. We had 19 turnovers. That's way too many against a team like this."

The Gophers finished with 24 points off of OSU turnovers.

At the other end of the court, Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber was heating up. He hit four three-pointers and two from the charity stripe during a 23-4 run that pushed his team's lead to a game-high 16 points at 57-41.

From there, the Gophers slowed things down and milked the shot clock. The Buckeyes – led by Turner, who looked the healthiest he has looked in his second game back from injury – could only cut it to less than a 10-point deficit one time the rest of the way.

Turner had five points at the half but scored 14 in the second half to finish with a team-high 19. After seeing 20 minutes of action in his return to the court Jan. 6 against Indiana, he nearly went the distance and was on the court for 38 minutes against the Gophers. He finished with eight rebounds and seven assists – both team-high totals.

He was aided by sophomore guard William Buford and junior forward David Lighty, who finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively.

Hoffarber finished with a career-high 27 points on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. At the half, he had five points and had connected on one three-pointer.

His numbers were aided by the fact that Lighty, OSU's top defender, was in foul trouble for most of the game. He picked up his fourth foul with 12:29 remaining and sat for several minutes, watching as the Gophers put the game away.

"When you don't have your best defender out there now you're trying to match guys up," Boals said. "It's still not an excuse. A guy like that, you can't let him have open shots."

The Buckeyes fell behind early thanks to a rash of turnovers – four in the first two minutes – but settled down and regrouped from there. Trailing 18-14 with 11:28 remaining in the half, OSU put together a 10-1 run that made it 24-19 nearly three minutes later.

The capper was a deep three-pointer taken by David Lighty. Turner also added a trey during the run.

The visitors were not able to pull away down the stretch, however, and the Gophers closed the half with a 7-2 run during the final 2:17 to set the score at 33-32 in favor of the Buckeyes.

Had they taken care of the basketball, they would have had a bigger lead. OSU committed 11 first-half turnovers – at least one coming from each starter – that were converted into 17 points. Those numbers tempered the fact that the Buckeyes shot 57.1 percent (12 for 21) from the field. Conversely, Minnesota went 9 for 22 (40.9 percent) but had 10 free throws compared to two for OSU.


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