The original timetable for Evan Turner’s return from broken vertebrae was eight weeks. It turns out the Ohio State point guard didn’t even need five to get back onto the floor.
After missing six games in which the Buckeyes (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten) went 3-3, Turner returned Wednesday night with an impressive stat line in just 20 minutes: eight points, five assists and four rebounds.
But more importantly for coach Thad Matta, Ohio State picked up its first conference win, a 79-54 romp over Indiana at Value City Arena.
“We won a game,” Matta said. “I thought we had some decent intensity on both ends of the floor to start the game. I think there’s a lot of challenges. Getting him (Turner) back is huge for us. We’ve got a long way to go.”
If, as Matta said, the Buckeyes have a long way to go, Indiana may have even a longer road ahead.
The Hoosiers (7-7, 1-1) committed more turnovers (24) than they had made field goals (18). They shot just 34 percent from the field. And in the first 15:36 of the contest, they scored only eight points.
“We played like a team that was in its first road game and that’s disappointing,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We certainly have the capabilities of being better than that.”
By the time Indiana reached double figures in scoring, Ohio State had built a comfortable 20-point lead. And playing in their first true road game of the season, the Hoosiers were unable to get closer than 17 the rest of the way.
Besides the efficient production from one of the primary contenders for Big Ten player of year in Turner, the Buckeyes got solid production from Jon Diebler (21 points) and William Buford (16 points). Diebler hit 5-of-8 3-point attempts and Buford pulled down six rebounds.
“It was definitely fun,” Turner said of his return. “I just had a lot of fun out there. I’m glad we won big. It was a great team win. I’m just real fortunate.”
For Indiana, Verdell Jones led the way offensively with 22 points. Christian Watford also scored in double figures with 11 points and Jeremiah Rivers added four points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Up next: Home vs Illinois on Saturday, January 9 at 8:00 ET on the Big Ten Network.
Crean’s postgame comments: Listen to the Indiana coach in the embedded media player below. Audio is courtesy of Dustin Dopirak of The Herald-Times.