College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Whenever Ohio State's Evan Turner is in the linuep, the Buckeyes have an excellent shot at winning - against any team in the country. Wednesday night, Turner put his seemingly-limitless talents on display against Helpless Penn State, and the result was a statistical eye-opener, in addition to being another Ohio State victory.
Turner scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Buckeyes to a 75-67 win, their 11th in their last 12 games against conference opponents. Turner usually does much more than just pour in the points, and his effort against the Nittany Lions was no exception as he racked up 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and a couple of blocked shots. While it wasn't a double-double, of which Turner has 12 this season, it was close to a triple-double, something the 6'7" junior has accomplished twice in '09-10.
The win kept Ohio State's hopes for a Big Ten championship very much alive, everything hinging on the outcome of Michigan State's trip to Purdue on Sunday. Should the Spartans pull off the upset, the Buckeyes, Boilermakers and Spartans could all easily finish the regular season at 14-4, with the tiebreaker falling Ohio State's way as they split with Purdue and hold a win over Michigan State in their only meeting this season. The Spartans have already lost to Purdue once, so another loss would give Purdue the edge, at 15-3, should they close out the calendar with wins over Indiana and Penn State, so Sunday's Purdue-Michigan St. rematch looms the biggest Big Ten game of the season.
Notable: Bubble teams going backwards include San Diego State (20-8, 9-5), as the Aztecs lost, 82-68, at BYU; Dayton (18-9, 7-6), a 49-41 loser to Temple; Minnesota (16-11, 7-8), losers at home to Purdue, 59-58; and Oklahoma State (19-8, 7-6), a 69-59 loser at Texas. South Florida, which suffered a crushing, 74-49 loss at the hands of Villanova, was probably already off the bubble and out of the post-season picture before they took the court against the Wildcats. They're now 6-9 in the conference.
The shocker of the night came from the Norte Dame Fighting Irish (18-10, 7-8), which bombed Pittsburgh, 68-53, just days after the Panthers knocked off Villanova, 70-65. The Irish played their third straight game without senior star Luke Harangody, who is out with a bone bruise to his right knee, and are currently tied for 8th place in the Big East with Seton Hall, UConn and Cincinnati, all at 7-8. With their final three games against Georgetown, Connecticut and Marquette, the Irish need to win two of those to even be in the NCAA conversation, plus, they'd likely have to win at least two games in the conference tournament. It's a tough road ahead.