Shot Makes Turner An Unlikely Hero

Ohio State advanced to play another day in the Big Ten tournament thanks to a clutch shot from junior guard Evan Turner. Heading into the shot, however, the Buckeyes were looking for just about anyone else to take the shot. Find out why in this article.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Evan Turner was the worst player to be taking a half-court shot for Ohio State.

Although the junior guard came up with what amounted to a 37-foot jumper that stole a victory away from Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes apparently would have had a higher chance of success had the ball gone to Jon Diebler. Or David Lighty. Or even seldom-used reserve Jeremie Simmons.

"(Simmons) and (Diebler) hit them like free throws all the time," Lighty said after OSU's 69-68 victory. "ET gets in there with us every now and then and tries to make them, but he's probably the worst one out of everybody."

That sentiment was backed up by a number of players in the locker room. According to Buford, the play was drawn up to get the ball to Diebler, but he was covered. After sitting for the previous 59 minutes and 57.8 seconds, Simmons was inserted cold into the lineup with 2.2 seconds left on the clock and most of the Buckeyes assumed that the ball would go to him instead of the Big Ten player of the year.

Instead, Lighty inbounded the ball to Turner, who raced the length of the court in two dribbles and fired. More of a shot than a heave, it swished through the net as Turner's stood there with his outstretched right hand in the air.

Told that his teammates had singled him out as the worst trick shooter on the team, Turner said, "That's probably because my aim is a little bad and it's not really game-time situations (after practice), but this was a game-time situation."

In other words, Turner said his aim improves when the game is on the line.

"I think I got a little bit of luck," he said. "I just followed through with my wrist. I was trying to put my fingers in the rim and it went straight there."

Turner said it was the first buzzer-beater of his career. His teammates said that type of shot is not something they practice much, but rather is something only seen when they are messing around after practice. Head coach Thad Matta said the only time he has yelled at his players to take game shots came after one misfire nailed him in the head.

This one was necessary because the Buckeyes had let a 13-point lead with about 10 minutes remaining disappear against a team fighting to keep its season alive. Matta said afterward that his team didn't deserve for the shot to fall on account of how it had played for the majority of the contest.

A fan of NBA legend Michael Jordan, Turner got a reminder of the fellow Chicago native during the final timeout from senior guard P.J. Hill.

"I was like, ‘become legendary,' because he loves Jordan," Hill said. "That's what big players do. I just told him to make the shot. I said, ‘Big players make big shots, and this is your time so make your shot.' He was like, ‘All right,' and he nodded his head.

"When he hit the shot, I was the first one to run out there."

Turner said, "He gave me confidence and I was fortunate enough to hit the shot."

Turner was a runaway choice for Big Ten player of the year this season, but he entered the game sixth on the team in three-point shooting percentage. After the game, Diebler sits three treys short of tying the program record for made three-pointers.

On the surface, it is not necessarily a situation for a player with Turner's strengths.

"That's the player of the year right there," Diebler said. "That's what you expect him to do. That just solidified it right there. What else does he have to do? That guy is unbelievable."

Lighty has seen his fair share of last-second shots during his OSU career. As a freshman, he was there for three of them – the capper of which was a three-pointer by Ron Lewis that tied the game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Lewis also connected on a trey against Tennessee during the regular season and then-freshman Mike Conley Jr. connected on a teardrop in the paint against Wisconsin to give the Buckeyes a Big Ten regular-season title.

"This one might be the best one because it was so far away and it was important for us to get this first win and go on and try to win a Big Ten tournament championship," Lighty said.

As the player who inbounded the ball to Turner, Lighty said he was hoping the Wolverines would forget to guard him and would leave him open for the shot. Instead, they guarded Turner one-on-one for one of the only times all game.

Once he got the ball, Turner said he was surprised he had so much space in which to work.

"They didn't press," he said. "I was surprised because the whole game they were trapping me and doing all this crazy stuff and then they just laid off of me. Too bad for them."

Michigan's Zack Novak said the Wolverines never discussed denying anyone the ball in their final timeout. The plan was to contest any shots, which guard Stu Douglass did to no avail.

The shot had to stand up to a video replay. Once it did, the Buckeyes celebrated their chance to survive for another day while the Wolverines came to the realization that their season was over.

"I always had the confidence it was going to go in," a smiling Turner said. "I have the confidence that if I'm going to shoot it, don't shoot without confidence. The distance (of the shot) didn't really bother me."

Said Diebler, "I guess that's a good sign we're supposed to be here."

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