January 6, 2010

Turner's return big for Bucks

COLUMBUS - Ohio State junior guard Evan Turner pushed the ball up court quickly midway through the first half in Wednesday night's blowout victory over Indiana and found Jon Diebler wide open in the corner. Diebler caught the perfect pass from Turner and proceeded to bury the three-pointer.

Diebler, with a look of pure jubilation, pointed back at Turner with perhaps the biggest smile he has had on his face since the junior got injured against Eastern Michigan.

Turner was back in the lineup first the first time since Dec. 5, but more importantly, it finally seemed as if things were back to normal in general for the Ohio State basketball team (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten).

"I am just glad we won, definitely. It was a great win and it is good to have confidence going into a rough environment like Minnesota," Turner said after the Buckeyes' 79-54 win over Indiana. "I am really happy to be back. It got boring sitting on the couch and it definitely would have not been cool going to class and not playing basketball, so I'm definitely glad to be doing both."

Turner's injury was originally estimated to have kept him out roughly eight weeks after he fell awkwardly on his back against Eastern Michigan after a failed attempt at a dunk before breaking two bones in his lower back.

As it turned out, though, Turner only missed just over a month and he said in the postgame interview session that he was cleared by doctors to play basketball four or five days ago.

"I knew like a week ago (that I was coming back)," Turner said. "I practiced like Thursday (and) Friday and I felt pretty good and I was going to try and come back for the Michigan game. But they wanted me to sit out another game, but that was it."

Given it took him roughly half the time to recover from the injury, there was some apprehension in terms of how long Turner could play this evening. As it turned out, two early fouls turned Turner's night into a rather light one, playing only 20 minutes in the game.

Even after getting fouled in the second half and falling to the ground, Turner maintained that he played a painless game against the Hoosiers and was never apprehensive with the way he played in fear that he could aggravate the injury again.

"No, not at all," Turner responded when asked if he felt any pain during the course of the game.

Turner may have come back early from the injry, but it couldn't have been soon enough for both he and his teammates. The Buckeyes got off toa rough 0-2 start in Big Ten action without the star point guard.

Against the Hoosiers, however, the Buckeyes looked as if they returned to form despite the fact that Turner didn't play his best game.

Understandably so, Turner looked a step slow in his first game back, but that was somewhat expected given he had been out of basketball for nearly a month with limited movement due to the injury.

Even so, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was pleased with the way Turner played Wednesday evening. In all, Turner finished with eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

"Overall Evan's return was good tonight," Matta said. "Yesterday at practice he was a little bit sloppy but I was pretty pleased with his overall performance. Having his size on the court really just helps the team."

Turner's stats weren't neccessariy what Ohio State had grown used to dating back to earlier in the season when his game was clicking on all cylinders, but having him on the court opened up big opportunities for the defense to step up.

Perhaps the most excited player to have him back was Diebler, who finished the game with a team-high 21 points off of five three-point attempts.

"It was nice to get those looks again," Diebler said with the same smile witness on the court after burying the three off of Turner's dish in the first half. ""I think everyone was very excited just because you had that extra threat in a guy like Evan who can do it all. I thought we were clicking on all cylinders tonight and Evan did a great job of managing the game.

"He didn't try to force anything. It was nice to have him back," Diebler added. "We always play off each other because Evan does such a great job of getting inside and playing in the paint and it kind of leaves me open for getting a shot."
Matta agreed.

"Last night at practice, Jon had a big smile on his face because he finally got some open looks on the 3-point line," Matta said. "After getting Evan back in the lineup, it's just going to take some time to get Jon back to his normal level."

Next up for Ohio State is a tough game at Minnesota on Saturday, but Turner has been pleased with his trek back from his injury that had everyone in Columbus waiting for his return.

"I know they wanted to ease me back in and thankfully we won big so everyone had a chance to play," Turner said. "Hopefully when games get tough I will to go back to forwarding. I was just trying to get back into the flow of things and pick up on the chemistry again."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.

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