COLUMBUS - The No. 18 Ohio State basketball team got just what the doctor ordered with the absence of Evan Turner: a game against an undermanned Presbyterian squad.
For 20 minutes, at least, the Buckeyes took advantage.
Ohio State played about as well as could be expected without their star player. The problem is once the game was more than decided the Buckeyes took their foot off of the gas and watched the Blue Hose outscore them in the second half to escape Value City with a small moral victory. Ohio State won the game, 78-48.
David Lighty led the Buckeyes with 20 points and six rebounds while Jon Diebler started off hot for 12 points before disappearing in the second half. Dallas Lauderdale was well on his way to a double-double with ten points and eight rebounds but was pulled after playing for 15 minutes.
Presbyterian tried various zone defenses against Ohio State in the first half but none of them accounted for much with the Buckeyes shooting 63-percent from the field en route to putting up 53 first half points.
"I think in the first half we played really well and moved the ball well and executed," Diebler said. "In the second half we kind of lost our intensity and Presbyterian, I think that is the first time they went man, they did a very nice job and have to give them a lot of credit."
In the first ten games of the season the Blue Hose had played a total of zero minutes of man-to-man defense but in the second half there was no other option and it paid off for what it was worth.
"I didn't have enough faith in playing man-to-man with such a young team," Presbyterian head coach Greg Nibert said. "At halftime we were left with no other answers because they had 53 points and we couldn't have done anything worse so we tried man-to-man and I couldn't be prouder of a young basketball team."
Presbyterian is in a transitional year making the move to Division I and ultimately is going without three of its best players who are opting to redshirt to have more eligibility upon going D-1. But even with a team that was playing mostly freshmen and sophomores the Blue Hose tried to dictate the tempo in the second half and Ohio State didn't have enough to match it.
"Whatever team is out there playing, that shouldn't dictate how we play, it should be the opposite," Lighty said. "We didn't play exactly how we wanted to the second half, but we're trying to take what we do in practice."
Ohio State had the luxury of a large lead when things slowed down but know that they won't have a luxury later in the season as the competition stiffens. During the final 12:24 of the game the Buckeyes were only able to muster eight points.
"In the two losses we've had this year we had letdowns throughout the game," head coach Thad Matta said. "The margin of error is not as high as one would think. We just need to try and get better each week."
The team would get a lot better in a hurry if Turner could return ahead of schedule and the Ohio State sophomore has declared that he would like to be back in three weeks. Matta joked that Turner said he could be back in three days but it ultimately will come to clearance by the doctors rather than just an A-Ok from Turner himself.
"He's accepted it (being out with an injury) more now and he's been a positive influence," roommate Diebler said. "He has really been helping us out from the bench."
The Buckeyes had solid production from the point guard position combo of P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons with the duo combining for 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. It is off of Turner's impressive credentials but as long as the Buckeyes can continue to produce from that position and keep the turnovers to a minimum it gives the Bucks a chance to be successful.