Playing its first game since Evan Turner’s injury, Ohio State clearly missed its star guard. The Buckeyes probably won’t miss him as much over this next stretch.
Looking to regroup from their first loss in more than three weeks, the 18th-ranked Buckeyes open a seemingly easy portion of their schedule when they host Presbyterian on Wednesday night.
Ohio State (7-2) received a huge scare when Turner fractured his lower back after falling to the court on a dunk attempt in a 111-60 win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 5. The injury is expected to keep Turner, who averages team highs of 18.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists, out for eight weeks.
The Buckeyes are a different team when Turner isn’t on the court, and they could have used his rebounding against then-No. 22 Butler on Saturday. Ohio State was outrebounded 40-27 in a 74-66 loss, snapping a five-game winning streak.
“It all came down to rebounding the basketball in key stretches,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta told Butler’s official Web site.
William Buford did his best to carry the Buckeyes in Turner’s absence, finishing with season highs of 20 points and seven rebounds despite playing with a back injury. David Lighty added 16 points for Ohio State, which opens Big Ten play at Wisconsin on Dec. 31.
Although the Buckeyes will face many challenges without Turner in conference action, they probably won’t have as much trouble without him in the games leading up to the league opener.
After this contest, Ohio State hosts Delaware State on Saturday and Cleveland State on Tuesday. The Buckeyes are 50-2 at home against non-conference opponents since 2004, including an 87-43 victory over Presbyterian on Dec. 15, 2007 - the only other meeting between these programs.
Ohio State set a Value City Arena record for shooting in that game, connecting on 71.4 percent of its attempts.
The Blue Hose are coming off Saturday’s 103-64 loss at then-No. 11 North Carolina. The Tar Heels ran out to a 32-5 lead in the first 10 minutes and led by as many as 47 after halftime.
“We were a little shell-shocked to begin the game,” coach Gregg Nibert said.
Although the Blue Hose were completely overmatched at the Dean Center, Chase Holmes played with poise, scoring a career-high 29 on 11-of-18 shooting. The sophomore guard is averaging 18.5 points on 56.2 percent shooting in his last six games.
This will be the Blue Hose’s fourth game of the season against a ranked opponent, having already lost 84-41 to then-No. 24 Clemson on Nov. 13 and 94-48 to then-No. 23 Illinois on Nov. 21. Presbyterian is 0-5 against Top 25 foes since moving to Division I in 2007.