During the entirety of Ohio State's road victory against Michigan State, the junior point guard settled for long-range jumpers rather than driving the paint as he has been doing all season. If I had a nickel for every time the announcers remarked that he simply did not have the juice they were accustomed to seeing from him this season, I could retire and start my own website covering the Buckeyes.
When a player as important as Turner sits out the whole day's worth of preparation one day before one of the biggest games of the season, that says something about how he really felt. After the game, head coach Thad Matta said Turner's performance was one of the greatest he has ever seen.
Is he tired? Probably. But let's not also forget that he's played six fewer games than the rest of the "Iron Five," so that has to be factored in somewhere.
This team will only go as far as Turner can take it. If he plays like he did today, that could still be pretty far.
But if his legs truly are leaving him, this team will not make it to the Sweet Sixteen. We saw that team go 3-3 earlier this season.
I think … that if we were not sure of this before, we have definite answers about where this team's bench sits in Matta's eyes.
I was not sure that the rotation could get any shorter, but Matta is no longer guaranteed to play any more than six guys on a given night. This feeling is so strong that with Dallas Lauderdale already on the bench with three fouls, Matta kept Kyle Madsen in with four fouls only to have him foul out near the midway point of the second half.
I'm sure Zisis Sarikopoulos started to make sure his shoes were properly tied, but there was no need. Players aside from the starters and Madsen will not see significant minutes at any point going forward unless something drastic – foul trouble, an injury – occurs.
This is your 2009-10 Buckeye basketball team. All six of them.
I think … that you have to give this team a lot of credit for finding a way to win this game. The Buckeyes lost a double-digit halftime lead on the road against West Virginia earlier this season, and a sense of déjà vu could not have been too far removed from OSU as the Spartans began their second-half run.
But just as MSU pulled ahead with about four minutes remaining, the Buckeyes countered with two free throws from William Buford. Then some solid defense. Then some Turner. Then a huge three-pointer from Jon Diebler that increased a three-point lead to six with 1:44 remaining, capping a 7-0 OSU answering run and hammering the nail in the coffin for the Spartans.
This team could have folded up shop given what happened against the Mountaineers and what happened Wednesday night at home against Purdue. Instead, big players made big shots and OSU finds itself still in the hunt for a title.
I think … that the fact that the Buckeyes were able to out-rebound the Spartans went a long way toward bringing a victory back to Columbus. OSU held a 41-38 advantage on the glass thanks to 10 boards from Turner and another 10 from Buford.
All 10 of Turner's came on the defensive end, helping to start breaks going the other way. Buford's performance, combined with his 13 first-half points, show me that he continues to grow into an all-around player. I'd still like to see him score more consistently throughout the game, however.