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Turner could be handful for Hawkeyes

BY BRENDAN STILES | JANUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Relinquishing a double-digit lead and falling to West Virginia may not have been the highlight of Ohio State’s weekend.

But the Buckeyes managed to seize some positives from the 69-65 loss to the Mountaineers on Jan. 23.

For one, the defeat didn’t knock Ohio State out of the AP top 25. Instead, it only helped the squad ascend to a No. 20 ranking after a week that also included a conference victory over Northwestern.

“I thought we played, at times, some very good basketball,” Buckeye head coach Thad Matta said on Monday during a teleconference. “West Virginia is the type of team that when you make a mistake, it has the type of players to make you pay, and it was probably the difference down the stretch. We weren’t able to put the ball in the basket in the final minutes.”

When the Buckeyes visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday night, they’ll boast one of the best players in the country in junior Evan Turner.

Despite missing six games earlier this season because of a back injury, Turner is still the only Division-I men’s basketball player averaging 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists per contest.

He finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Buckeyes’ loss to the Mountaineers, who are now ranked ninth in the AP top 25.

Harris to return after suspension

Competition has been rough on the Michigan Wolverines.

Following a win over Connecticut on Jan. 17, the Wolverines followed up with poor showings in Big Ten play, letting a nine-point second half lead slip away while at Wisconsin in a 54-48 loss.

Then, prior to Michigan’s game at Purdue last weekend, head coach John Beilein suspended guard Manny Harris for unsportsmanlike conduct during a team practice on Jan. 22.

His absence hurt in the 10-point loss to the Boilermakers. And considering Purdue at one time held a 61-38 lead during the second half, it was clear Michigan wasn’t the same without Harris, who leads the Big Ten in scoring.

On Monday, though, the Wolverine star was reinstated, and he will likely suit up tonight when Michigan hosts No. 5 Michigan State at Crisler Arena.

“It is our hope that Manny will show tremendous growth from his suspension,” Beilein told the Michigan media on Monday.

History in the making?

With seven teams separated by a single game in the middle of the Big Ten standings, Northwestern might be the one team sitting on edge.

Although the Wildcats are one of the four squads with a 3-4 conference record, they scored a key victory last weekend against Illinois at home, 73-68.

The win puts Northwestern at 14-5 overall, but the program has never participated in the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, which first became an annual event in 1939 when Northwestern’s home venue, Welsh-Ryan Arena, hosted the first-ever Final Four.

This week, the Wildcats have an opportunity to pad their national résumé with road games against Minnesota tonight and No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. A win over either or both of those teams would be monumental in Northwestern’s quest for a historic tourney berth.

“It’s a tough week ahead of us, but we had a pretty nice practice [Sunday], so we’ll see,” Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said during a Big Ten teleconference.


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