Turner, Ohio State's one-man show, couldn't give an answer Friday night when asked if he'll return for his senior season. His eyes were red, his voice was halting. Only minutes earlier, Turner had quickly walked off the court here at the Edward Jones Dome. His final two 3-point attempts to pull the Buckeyes even with Tennessee in the closing seconds didn't fall.
But second-seeded Ohio State did, losing 76-73 to sixth-seeded Tennessee in the Midwest Regional.
"I can't give a percentage right now," Turner answered when asked to give a chance of his return. "It's just sticking in my head. I really don't want to go out like this. I don't even know."
Turner scored 21 of his game-high 31 points in the second half, while his teammates went just 3 of 16 from the field. The ball was in his hands, as expected, for the dramatic closing seconds.
It appeared Turner passed on a jumper from the wing, instead ending with a shot deep from the corner. The hustling Turner got the rebound near the foul line, dribbled beyond the arc, turned and shot a desperation trey under pressure from UT's J.P. Prince.
The ball never made it to the rim.
"We were running a pin down for Jon (Diebler), but they overplayed it," Turner explained. ""The first shot ... I shot the ball and we missed and the second one, you know, I still got a clear shot. And then it just didn't go in."
Actually, the Volunteers got their revenge for their 2007 Sweet 16 loss to the Buckeyes.
In that game, Ohio State star center Greg Oden blocked a shot to end the game. In this one, Turner had a shot blocked by Prince to end the game. Turner tumbled backwards after the shot.
"The [officials] didn't call it, so I guess it wasn't a foul," said Turner, who recorded his fifth 30-point game of the season.
"The shot didn't go in. A call could have went both ways but the call didn't happen and that's how it (goes). I think it shouldn't have come down to that certain situation. I think we could have helped ourselves from putting ourselves in that predicament."
Turner couldn't have been more correct. He simply didn't have enough help.
Fellow shooting guard Jon Diebler had just one basket. William Buford was the only other player in double digits with 14 points. The Buckeyes were out-rebounded 41-29 and out-scored 50-22 in the paint. When Ohio State needed a big play, it couldn't convert. Kyle Madsen made a nice offensive rebound off a missed Turner layup with 17 ticks remaining and Ohio State trailing 74-73. But he turned it over.
Turner fouled UT's Bobby Maze, who calmly converted two free throws for a 76-73 lead.
"In a certain situation, certain type of game, it's definitely tough because we had a chance to win it in the last 12 seconds of the game," Turner said. "It's tough, but it happens."
Turner, of course, isn't sure what might happen concerning his future.
Despite Friday's ending, he was proud of the Buckeyes' accomplishments. Ohio State lost for just the second time in its last 17 games and saw its nine-game winning streak snapped.
"I had the most fun I ever had playing basketball," Turner said. "I think we grew as a team. We genuinely care for each other. Right now it's tough to go through, but I feel like we did a lot of great stuff, and we had a great season."
Ohio State coach Thad Matta says he wants what's best for his star player.
"As we were talking back there, I told him you better hang on, there's going to be people coming at you," Matta said.'
"They're like vultures out there right now. I would venture to say by the time we get back to the hotel it will be a who's who trying to get to him and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. But my whole thing is what's best for Even Turner and exactly what he wants to do."