Evan Turner proved that he who laughs last laughs loudest.
Facing a hostile environment on the road at No. 6 Purdue, the Ohio State point guard watched as Robbie Hummel put up 29 points in the first half alone. Then in the final 20 minutes, Turner put up 23 of his own to finish with 32 and key unranked OSU’s upset of the Boilermakers, 70-66.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the formerly boisterous crowd of 14,123 at Mackey Arena was reduced to silence.
It was music to Turner’s ears.
“It felt absolutely great,” he said. “All the controversial stuff that happened throughout the night, it didn’t matter. That all got washed out the window. I wish you could (experience) it.”
At halftime, the story of the night was Hummel’s career day. Facing a 1-3-1 zone defense the Buckeyes (12-5, 2-3 Big Ten) deployed for the first time all season, the junior had a field day.
With his team clinging to a 21-18 lead, Hummel connected on a trey with 6:02 remaining in the half. Less than five minutes later, the lead had ballooned to 12 points and Hummel had scored 18 straight points for his team – all from beyond the three-point arc.
After Hummel hit his eighth three-pointer of the half on 10 attempts, OSU’s David Lighty got his wish and head coach Thad Matta switched his team back to a man-to-man defense.
Still, Purdue (14-2, 2-2) headed into the half leading comfortably at 41-29 and Purdue head coach Matt Painter knew what to do with Hummel.
“Obviously when a guy is 8 for 10, you leave him the hell alone,” he said.
The 29 points already served as a career high for Hummel, and the eight treys doubled his previous career-best for a single game.
“It was one of those deals where (you’re thinking), ‘He can’t make another one, he can’t make another one’ and he kept making them,” Matta said. “I told our guys at halftime, ‘We have to change up or he’s going to get 100 points.’ ”
The second half proved to be another story and the shots stopped falling.
Hummel scored six the rest of the way and missed all three of his three-point attempts as the Buckeyes – led by Turner – mounted their charge.
It started with 3:57 remaining and the Buckeyes trailing by 10 at 62-52. Turner drove the basket and converted a three-point play, cutting the deficit to seven and pushing his scoring total to 23 points on the evening.
From there, it was a 16-4 OSU run during which Turner personally accounted for the first 14 points. He gave the Buckeyes the lead for good with 1:12 remaining when he lost control of the ball and caught the carom off the backboard, went up and drew the foul.
When he hit both free throws, it was a 64-62 OSU lead and the upset was on. The 32 points were a career high for Turner.
“I just came out in the second half and said that we can win,” he said. “I knew I needed to make some plays, but we just had to keep fighting. Coach kept calling my number and I made plays.”
Lighty hounded Hummel once the Buckeyes went to their man defense and said there was a simple key to stopping him.
“Get the ball out of his hands as much as possible,” he said, ‘then fly at him and try to disrupt him as much as possible. He was getting a lot of open looks and we weren’t contesting his shots. Coach told me not to let him score.”
As a team, Purdue went 10 for 27 from three (37.0 percent) and missed all five of its second-half attempts. Players not named Hummel combined to go 2 for 14 (14.3 percent).
Fittingly, Purdue’s first shot attempt of the game was a three-pointer drained by Hummel that opened up the scoring. The Boilermakers opened up an 8-3 lead with all eight points scored by – who else? – Hummel and increased it to 11 when E’Twaun Moore hit a three-pointer, but the Buckeyes came back from there.
With Boilermakers not named Hummel firing without abandon from deep, OSU relied on Turner and Buford to put together a 12-2 run that gave the Buckeyes an 18-13 lead and caused some restlessness among the crowd at Mackey Arena.
Thanks to four Purdue turnovers in the span of five possessions, the Buckeyes overcame committing two of their own and got six points from William Buford – all jumpers – and five from Turner, whose three-point play with 11:24 left gave OSU its first lead of the game.
Then Hummel got angry, and the Boilermakers closed the half on a 28-9 run.
The win comes at the end of a stretch that saw OSU play four of its first five Big Ten games on the road and marks its second win during that stretch – first on the road.
Turner described it as the biggest win of his career.
“This is the best win, by far,” he said. “We felt like sometimes it just wasn’t fair here, but we got the win. By far, this is the best win.”