INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Evan Turner’s accuracy was off, and the player widely regarded as one of the nation’s best was becoming visibly frustrated in the final minutes.
When the game clock showed 2.2 seconds, those issues no longer mattered.
Turner took an inbounds pass, dribbled upcourt and drained a 37-footer at the buzzer to give No. 5 Ohio State a 69-68 win over Michigan on Friday in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
”You can’t really practice for those moments, you just have to come out and come ready,” he said.
The Big Ten player of the year left his arm in the air after the release, confident that the long shot would fall.
”I was just trying to get the ball up and get it in shooting range and keep my follow-through, and it went in,” he said modestly.
Turner finished with 18 points and eight assists for the Buckeyes (25-7), who advanced to play Illinois in the semifinals on Saturday. The Fighting Illini beat No. 13 Wisconsin 58-54 on Friday afternoon.
Turner’s final attempt was so close to the buzzer that the play was reviewed. When the officials signaled the shot was good, the red-clad section of the crowd erupted.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta said he wasn’t sure the Buckeyes deserved such good fortune.
”It’s funny because I was so mad kind of at how we had played throughout the course of the game. But as he let it go, I thought, ‘That thing has got a chance to go in,’ ” he said. ”As it kept going, going, going, boom, went in, and obviously I’m not sure it was supposed to go in with how we had played for 39 minutes and 57.8 seconds, but fortunately it did.”
Turner had shot 1 for 8 in the second half, but took the biggest shot of the game without hesitation. He was surprised that no one impeded his progress as he dribbled up the court.
”Honestly I thought they were going to press or something like that,” Turner said. ”The whole game, they were swarming me. They gave me one good look. Being open felt a little bit free. I felt like I was in the gym by myself.”
Michigan coach John Beilein thought the shot was good right away.
”It’s not the first time I’ve heard that buzzer and saw that ball go in, and son of a gun, it looked in from the get-go, as well.”
Michigan’s Manny Harris hit a jumper from 11 feet with 2.2 seconds left to give Michigan a 68-66 lead. Harris led the Wolverines (15-17) with 26 points, and his big performance made the final result all the more disappointing for the Wolverines.
”It definitely hurt,” Harris said. ”We were excited (after his shot), but at the same time we knew anything could happen. They had two seconds, a lot of time to shoot and score, and that’s what Evan Turner did.”
Michigan began the season ranked 15th, but Friday’s game was representative of the season for Wolverines.
”That’s a great catch phrase, microcosm of the season,” Beilein said. ”That’s a little bit of the frustration that we have this year. Some things that you can’t always control happen to you. It’s certainly indicative of some things that happened.”
David Lighty and William Buford each scored 15 points for Ohio State. Stu Douglass and DeShawn Sims each had 16 points for Michigan.
The Buckeyes led 39-29 early in the second half before back-to-back 3-pointers by Douglass chopped the Buckeyes’ lead to 39-35.
Another 3 by Douglass trimmed Ohio State’s lead to 42-38, but Ohio State responded with a 9-0 run. A 3-pointer by Turner capped the spurt midway through the second half.
Michigan surged again, and a 3-pointer by Harris while fading away from beyond the key cut Ohio State’s lead to 59-57, leading to the frantic final minutes.
Matta wasn’t happy the Buckeyes let Michigan back in the game, and he hopes his team learned from the experience.
”Hopefully this game can shake us, some of the cobwebs out, and get us back on track,” he said.