COLUMBUS - Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan became secondary at the 13:27 mark of the first half when Evan Turner went down and the air was sucked out of Value City Arena. Ohio State's leading scorer went in for a two handed dunk and drew minimal contact from Antonio Green but it was just enough to send Turner falling to the floor and onto his back.
Turner was taken to Ohio State Medical Center for precautionary X-rays on his lower back which came up negative and will also undergo a CT scan. Turner will be released later on Saturday but will likely be sore for a couple of days at best. Lost in the shuffle was a dominating performance by and Ohio State offense that had five score in double figures against a turnover prone Eastern Michigan team and went on to a 111-60 win.
Jon Diebler led the Buckeyes with 21 points while P.J. Hill played 33 minutes in relief of Turner and scored a career high 18 points. But obviously the primary thoughts are with the injured Turner.
"I haven't seen the fall yet but obviously thinking about him and hoping that everything is going to be okay," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said.
"It was pretty ugly watching it on the floor, he just fell off the rim and it didn't look good," Diebler said. "We have tomorrow off so we can get him rested and we don't play until next Saturday so he has time to relax and get healthy."
Hill did not play in Ohio State's win over Florida State and while he was obviously disappointed he understood Matta's decision and knew that his opportunity would come. Understandably it didn't come under the best circumstances but it was on the point guard to make the best of it.
"I hate to see him get hurt but also I know that he would want me to go out there and take full advantage of the opportunity and run for his spot," Hill said. "Just pick up where he left, so that is what I did."
The game was never in doubt and even when Turner was out the Buckeyes were up 15-5 but there always is a fear that a big injury could take the heads of the team out of a game but the Buckeyes seemed to rally around their injured teammate and everyone played a role.
"We just knew when a man goes down we have to pick it up and especially a guy like Evan who does so much for us on the floor," Diebler said. "P.J. came and did a great job, shot really well and I think he controlled the tempo and got us in the right spots. That just shows how good of a team we are and how deep we are."
Ohio State's defense gave the Eagles fits with the Buckeyes turning over Eastern Michigan 17 times in the first half and 24 times in the game.
"They did a tremendous job with all of the ball screen action, they really attacked it," Eastern Michigan head coach Charles Ramsey said. "Our kids didn't handle it very well. We weren't ball tough."
With Ohio State's starting point guard out William Buford picked up a lot of the slack when it came to dishing the ball out with ten assists to go with 16 points. Was that a conscious effort by Will to try and pick up some of the void that was left by the departure of Turner?
"Evan is the one who distributes the ball and gets all the assists but since he was gone I saw a lot of open looks for the rest of my teammates and I just wanted to keep passing them the ball," Buford said.
It was also encouraging to see Buford hitting open shots after some dismal shooting in the past games. The Buckeyes know that they will need contributions from everyone regardless of Turner's status as the season starts to get tougher with Butler waiting in the wings and the Big Ten schedule less than a month away.
The Bucks had the chance to empty the bench in the game that they led by 55 points at one point. Matta was pleased with the opportunity to split more minutes up for the team even if it was under the worst of circumstances.
"Jeremie Simmons comes in again and does well and to get (Zisis Sarikopoulos) and [(db]Nikola Kecman[/db]) more minutes, I think that was a good thing as well," Matta said. "At this stage in early December the more the better and just getting guys game experience hopefully it helps us."
Saturday's 111 points ties the 9th most points that the Buckeyes have scored in a game in school history and are the most points scored in Value City Arena history. The Buckeyes' 62 first half points is tied for 3rd when it comes to first half productivity. Ohio State will have a week off for final exams before heading to Indianapolis to take on Butler a week from Saturday in a battle of top-25 teams.