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Evan Turner clearly showed why he is a national Player of the Year candidate as he led the #1 seed Ohio State Buckeyes to a dominating 90 – 61 Big Ten Tournament title game victory over Minnesota. 


The Buckeyes Rolled for a Big Ten Tournament Title.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

The Buckeyes Rolled for a Big Ten Tournament Title. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Turner who was voted Big Ten Player of the Year was chosen as Big Ten Tournament MVP after scoring 31 points, 22 which were in the second half where Ohio State broke open a 33 – 30 half-time lead. After starting slow to feel out the Minnesota defense at the 13:20 mark of the second half and OSU clinging to a 44-40 lead, Buckeye coach Thad Motta told Turner “take over the game!”  After that Turner nailed a jumper, then hit a three, and David Lighty drove for three straight layups breaking the game open 51-40 before Tubby Smith called time-out for reeling Minnesota. 

The Gophers never got closer as Turner, Lighty, and sharp-shooting Jon Diebler went on a rampage boosting the lead to 26 points at 85-59 before Motta sent in the bench to finish off the final 01:27 of the game.   Turner said “I think as a unit we got hot, we made our run, and once we got a couple points ahead, we didn’t want to let them back, just kept trying to hit shots and trying to get defensive stops.”  OSU shot a sizzling 65.6% in the second-half canning 9 of 14 three point shots. Turner had his 16th double-double of the season with 31 points and a game high 11 rebounds. David Lighty had 20 points and 7 boards, while the conference’s top sniper Jon Diebler had 19 points including five three-pointers.  Diebler’s 104 treys on the season is the most in OSU basketball history as are his 248 for his three year career.

Ohio State head coach Thad Motta has been coaching in the Big Ten six seasons said “Turners play in the Big Ten Tournament was the most impressive he has ever seen.”  Turner, who joined Minnesota’s Blake Hoffarber in Big Ten Tournament all time memory moments with his desperation 37 foot buzzer beater to beat Michigan on Friday, established a tournament championship game record with his 31 points.  Turner’s 26.7 PPG tournament average is the highest in the 13 year Big Ten Tournament history.  Turner’s 80 points over the Buckeye’s three tournament games is third after Iowa’s Luke Recker’s 91 points (2002 in four games) and OSU’s Brent Darby who had 84 in 2003 also in four games.   Turner said “this is tournament ball; it’s all about play makers. It’s not too much about half court offense or anything. You just try and make plays, and the team who’s in attack mode and the team that’s trying to win is going to win.”

Ohio State (27-7) won their second Big Ten Tournament Championship. The 2002 title that OSU won led by tournament MVP Boban Savovic was vacated for recruiting violations under Coach Jim O’Brien.  Including the vacated title Ohio State becomes the first school to win three Big Ten Tournament titles. Sixth year head coach Thad Motta ties Tom Izzo (1999, 2000) and Bo Ryan (2004, 2008) as coaches who have won two Big Ten Tournament titles.   Motta’s 73% Big Ten Tournament winning percentage tops all conference coaches.

Minnesota (21-13) was attempting to be the second #6 seed team (Iowa 2001) to win four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers who defeated #3 seed MSU, and #2 seed Purdue would have been the first team to knock off the tournament’s top three seeds had they beaten #1 Ohio State. Even with the championship game defeat Minnesota’s tournament performance earned them a berth in the NCAA Tournament.