It was supposed to be another chance for the Ohio State star to stand out on a big stage. Instead, it was one of the worst shooting nights of his career.
As it turns out, that didn't matter at all for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes leaned on the slick shooting of a sick player, Jon Diebler, and defensive domination by Dallas Lauderdale for a 68-51 victory over persistent UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.
"I can't picture another game being like this," Turner said. "It's cool. I'm glad my teammates picked us up."
Diebler scored 23 points and Lauderdale blocked a career-high eight shots and grabbed 12 rebounds for the second-seeded Buckeyes (28-7), who won without much offense from their top player.
Diebler's performance was particularly impressive, given the fact that he spent the week fighting off flulike symptoms.
"I knew I was going to be fine," he said. "Yesterday I felt a little better after the practice
- after I threw up."
Joked Buckeyes coach Thad Matta, "He's the only guy that takes the 24-hour flu to 72 hours."
Turner was held to nine points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field. He did have 10 rebounds, and William Buford added 16 points for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State advanced to play Sunday against No. 10 seed Georgia Tech, which beat seventh-seeded Oklahoma State 64-59 on Friday.
Orlando Johnson scored 20 points for No. 15 seed UC Santa Barbara (20-10).
The game was expected to be a showcase for Turner, the Big Ten player of the year and widely regarded as the leading candidate for national player of the year.
Instead, the most impressive parts of Ohio State's game were a sampling of swatted shots and a couple of big dunks by Lauderdale, and the stellar outside shooting of Diebler, who was 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
"I didn't realize he was sick," Gauchos coach Bob Williams joked. "That makes me feel a whole better. Certainly glad the kid wasn't healthy, he might have been 10 out of 15."
Turner, meanwhile, seemed to have a rough night against the Gauchos' matchup zone defense.
"Evan, he was struggling a little bit but also did a good job of finding the open guy," Diebler said. "We knew coming in they come at you with unique zones. We felt there were ways we could attack it."
Afterward, Turner said he was happy that his teammates picked him up - but surprised at just how much contact the officials allowed.