Not a great start...
Nothing depresses me more then finding out Bill Raftery is announcing an Ohio State game. The CBS game caller is a charismatic guy, I'll give him that, but for some reason he feels the need to finish each of his sentences with a seizure like force. I don't understand it. I don't know why anyone would pay him to do this. He talks like he's in a race with himself to finish his own statements. Listening to him call a game is like getting punched in the ears for two and a half hours.
To add insult to injury, Michigan's favorite rapper/alternative rocker/country singer sat court-side for Sunday's game.
*Side note -- has there been a more random or schizophrenic career in the music industry recently then Kid Rock's? How do you go from singing Bawitaba (whatever the heck that is... it probably means creepy mustache in German) to singing about 'finding someone's picture today' with Sheryl Crow.
Anyway, Michigan State was clearly motivated by the presence of Kid Rock and raced out to a 10-4 lead.
Hello, my name is Evan Turner, and I'd like you to meet my supporting cast...
Leading up to the game, Ohio State's super star Evan Turner was battling cold and flu like symptoms. With Turner's health a factor, it was going to be absolutely crucial for Buford, Lighty, Diebler and Lauderdale to play at the top of their games. After the shaky start, Turner's supporting cast started playing lights out. Dallas Lauderdale and William Buford were huge during a stretch of five minutes that erased Michigan State's lead. Lauderdale had two thunderous dunks and Buford hit two field goals (one of them a three pointer), giving Ohio State a 13-12 edge.
After Ohio State took the lead, they didn't look back. Behind the Buckeyes suffocating defense and some pinpoint shooting on offense, the good guys raced out to a 23-12 lead. Over a span of six minutes, Ohio State went on a 19-2 run that was stopped by a pair of Raymar Morgan free throws.
Just like Evan Turner, Michigan State's best player (Kalin Lucas) struggled early. The reigning Big Ten player of the Year scored only one point in the first half on 0-5 shooting. Lucas' supporting cast wasn't nearly as good in this half as Turner's was. The Spartans shot a horrid 33% from the field and committed nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
As the half drew to a close, the two teams traded buckets and Ohio State went into intermission with a 39-26 lead.
A tale of two halves...
The tone was completely different in the final 20 minutes. Michigan State was able to establish their presence inside the paint, outscoring Ohio State 14-0 in the first ten minutes of the half. The Spartans also hammered the boards on the offensive end, creating extra opportunities to cut into the lead. This also forced Ohio State's big men into foul trouble. Lauderdale was hit with his third foul early in the half, which sent him to the bench and brought Kyle Madsen (read - rebounding liability) onto the floor.
It was a tough stretch for Ohio State all around. On offense, the shots that were falling in the first half were not falling in the second. Evan Turner was finding his scoring touch, but he wasn't getting much help from the other starting four. As the minutes crawled by, Ohio State's lead shrunk. It felt a lot like the Purdue game earlier this week, only backwards. This time, Ohio State was the team giving away a big lead. Unfortunately, the only difference between that game and this one was the fact that the Spartans were able to break through. With 3:45 left on the clock, Michigan State's Durrell Summers hit a two point jumper that gave the Spartans a 63-62 advantage. The momentum swing sent the crowd into a frenzy. It started feeling like 1989, when Kid Rock's thoughts were short and his hair was long.
There goes my hero, watch him as he goes...
Two William Buford free throws recaptured the lead for Ohio State. It was a lead that Evan Turner would not allow to be overcome. Turner took over the game in the closing minutes, scoring six of last 11 points. He assisted John Diebler's three point basket and also collected three rebounds during the stretch. Aside from this, his defense on Kalin Lucas was superb. You would think with Turner's size (6'7"), it would be hard for him to keep up with one of the nation's best point guards. But Turner showed why he's one of the best players in the country by shutting Lucas down, not only down the stretch, but for the entire game. His all around play sealed the victory for the Buckeyes as they escaped East Lansing with a 74-67 win.
Despite only scoring four points in the first half, Evan Turner finished the game with 20 to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists. You'd think it would grow old singing Turner's praises, but it doesn't. It just keeps getting better.
Happy Valley? More like... Sad... Valley. That was an awesome joke.
Yes, I am aware that the football team plays in Happy Valley and not the basketball team, but that joke was way too amazing to ignore. And in all honesty, Penn State is pretty much the embodiment of a "football school", so whatever. I write the articles; you read them. I make the rules; you follow them. I tell the jokes; you laugh whether they're funny or not. Moving on -- Ohio State visits Penn State this Wednesday for a rematch of Ohio State's victory earlier this month.
The Penn State basketball team was actually having a pretty good year before conference play started. They brought one of the league's best players (Talor Battle) and an 8-4 record into league play. What followed was an embarrassing 12 game losing streak that sunk the Nittany Lions to the bottom of the conference rankings. Some of those games were blow outs, but most of them were pretty close. The first game between Penn State and Ohio State came down to the closing minutes as Ohio State was able to pull away after John Diebler hit a big three.
Recently, the Nittany Lions have been playing fairly good basketball, and will enter Wednesday's contest with a two game winning streak. Don't be fooled by their record; Penn State will battle for all 40 minutes, give you their best shot and fight through any other cliches you want to throw at them. This is no gimme, so be sure to tune in at 6:30 this Wednesdsay and cheer on your Buckeyes.