If there was any doubt if Evan Turner is a serious contender for the National Player of the Year now might be a good time to recheck your ballot. Penn State erased a 17 point hole to cut it to two points with five minutes ago and that is where Turner turned it on. Turner scored the next nine points for the Buckeyes of his game high 25 points as the Buckeyes kept pace in the Big Ten race with a 75-67 victory.
Turner was held in check during the first half but David Lighty filled the void and ended up with 18 points of his own. Jon Diebler had 16 points, William Buford had 12 and Dallas Lauderdale made his impact on the glass with ten rebounds and multiple blocked and altered shots.
Penn State was paced by Talor Battle and his 22 points but it wasn't enough as the Buckeyes continued their streak of winning games that they lead at the five minute mark to 20 straight games and extend the overall win streak to 13 versus the Nits.
In the first half Penn State did a good job of keeping up with the Buckeyes trading the lead several times and only trailing by four points after the first frame.
The second half was another story as the Buckeyes sprinted out with a 19-6 run to go up by 17 points and seemingly put the game away. But Penn State wasn't done and over the space of 1:09 knocked down three triples and forced the Buckeyes to take a timeout. Andrew Jones, Jeff Brooks and David Jackson chipped away on the Ohio State lead and Jackson's hoop and harm (made free throw) cut the lead to two.
Purdue would drawn no closer as the Buckeyes outscored the Boiler 16-8 in the final segment of the game. A big part of that was the play of Turner but did Lighty take it upon himself in the first half to try and pick up some of the slack while Turner was getting it done with other aspects of the game (ended with seven rebounds and seven assists).
"We were kind of flat coming out and weren't pressuring the ball as much as we were supposed to and weren't executing as much as well as we usually do," Lighty said. "I tried to attack a little bit and things worked out for us and luckily we came out with a win."
Lighty has not always been consistent with his scoring this season but knows when he scores that good things happen.
"When I score it is hard to stop us, there are so many threats on the floor that the defense doesn't know what to stop," Lighty said. "It just adds another one out there."
The Buckeyes have two games left in the regular season with Michigan coming to Columbus (Ohio) on Saturday afternoon and Illinois closing out the season. The Bucks will keep a close eye on what the Boilermakers and Illini do down the stretch as any of the three teams could grab the No. 1 seed and Big Ten regular season title.