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Men’s Basketball: Turner leads Buckeyes past Irish in Indianapolis

Greg Arbogast | Monday, December 8, 2008

All week Luke Harangody was the main topic of conversation, but it was Evan Turner that had everyone talking by the end of Saturday afternoon.

Turner had 28 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two clutch free throws to help seal Ohio State’s 67-62 upset over No. 7 Notre Dame.

After Tory Jackson made his third 3-pointer of the second half to cut the Buckeyes lead to one with 26 seconds remaining, Turner was put on the free-throw line with 21 seconds to go. The sophomore nailed both free throws and left the Irish needing a three-pointer to send the game to overtime.

Kyle McAlarney attempted to dial up a shot reminiscent of his 3-point shooting barrage against North Carolina in Maui, but his long-range attempt hit off the side of the rim and ended Notre Dame’s comeback efforts.

McAlarney missing a three-pointer was an all too common occurrence for the Irish Saturday. After hitting 10, nine and seven three-pointers in Notre Dame’s last three games, McAlarney missed all six of his attempts against Ohio State. That statistic was testament to the defensive display put on by the Buckeyes who, through Nov. 30, were ranked second in the country in defensive field goal percentage – they allowed their opponents to shoot 32 percent from the field.

Ohio State put all that defensive ability to work in an effort to negate Notre Dame’s 3-point shooting. The Buckeyes employed a 2-2-1 full-court press to force the Irish into a slower half-court offensive game, and they tailed McAlarney and fellow sharpshooter Ryan Ayers around outside the three-point line.

The result was that Ayers and McAlarney couldn’t find an uncontested 3-point shot, and the two finished the game a combined 3-for-13 from behind the arc.

“They got us out of our offensive rhythm,” McAlarney said to the Associated Press. “We weren’t in a good flow, weren’t scoring well.”

The Buckeyes’ defensive strategy did leave open spaces inside the lane and forced the Irish to utilize the low-post much more than they’re accustomed to. Harangody was the primary beneficiary. The junior big man, who reportedly has lost 12 pounds since contracting pneumonia in Maui, showed no ill effects in finishing the game with 25 points on 10-for-25 shooting and 16 rebounds.

“I felt good in practice,” Harangody told the AP after the game. “Once I got out there, it was easy to forget about everything else. Toward the end of the game [I felt tired], but overall I felt pretty good out there.”

Despite his 16 rebounds, neither Harangody nor any other Notre Dame player was able to do anything to deny Ohio State on the boards during a key second half stretch.

Between the 13:45 and 8:51 mark in the second half, the Buckeyes grabbed five offensive rebounds and allowed Ohio State to score on seven consecutive offensive possessions. Before that stretch, the largest Ohio State lead had been six points, but in that five-minute stretch the Buckeyes turned a one-point lead into a nine-point advantage that Notre Dame would never overcome.

Ohio State out-rebounded Notre Dame 43-36 on the game, and the Buckeyes grabbed 11 offensive rebounds – eight of which came in the second half – to Notre Dame’s nine.

“Their second shots really hurt us,” Irish coach Mike Brey said to the AP. “We probably didn’t deserve to win. Ohio State outplayed us and deserved to win.”