Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vols key on Turner, nip Buckeyes

Tennessee's defenders smother Ohio State's one offensive weapon

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ST. LOUIS -- Ohio State has one of the best players in the country in Evan Turner. Tennessee has what seems like an endless supply of nasty, stingy defenders.

No secret who's going to win that battle.

Brian Williams scored the go-ahead basket on a tip-in with 32 seconds left, and J.P. Prince was relentless on Turner, blocking a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer Friday night to lead Tennessee past Ohio State 76-73 and into the NCAA tournament's round of eight for the first time.

The Vols will meet Michigan State in the Midwest Regional final. The Spartans advanced with a 59-52 win over Northern Iowa.

"I was tired," Tennessee's Prince said. "I just said I'll save it all for defence. That's all I did. I know those last two minutes I was going to make them work. I knew nobody wanted it more than I did."

Wayne Chism finished with 22 points -- all but four in the second half -- and 11 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Volunteers (28-8), who pulled out a back-and-forth tussle in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

Turner, a candidate to add national honours to his Big Ten player of the year award, carried the No. 2-seed Buckeyes single-handedly in the second half. He scored 21 of his 31 points in the final period while the rest of the Buckeyes went just 3-of-16 from the field.

He actually had two shots in the final three seconds, but he missed from deep in the left corner, then got the ball back. With Prince all over him, Turner's last shot from near the top of the key didn't even get to the rim.

As the Tennessee players celebrated, Turner walked off the court with his head bowed.

"I can't give a percentage right now," Turner said, his eyes red and his voice catching, when asked if he'll return to Ohio State for his senior year. "I really don't want to go out like this."

Few expected this from the Volunteers, considering where they were on Jan. 1.

Tyler Smith, their leading scorer last season, was dismissed from the team and Williams, Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins were suspended after a gun and marijuana were found during a traffic stop.

But nine days later, Tennessee stunned then-No. 1 Kansas and the Vols emerged as an even stronger team. Now, they're one win from the Final Four.

For the Buckeyes, it's an opportunity lost.

No one appeared to benefit more than Ohio State (29-8) when No. 1 overall seed Kansas was upset by Northern Iowa in the second round.

Add in third-seeded Georgetown's first-round loss and fourth-seeded Maryland's loss last weekend, and Ohio State had what looked like a clear path to its second Final Four in four years.

To get there, though, the Buckeyes needed more than Turner. William Buford (15) was the only other scorer in double figures.

Jon Diebler, so big for Ohio State in the first two rounds, shot 1-of-7 from three-point range.

 

-- The Associated Press

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2010 D7

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