COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Evan Turner smiled when asked the importance of No. 15 Ohio State's 77-64 victory over Florida State (No. 21 AP).
"That's the championship right there," Turner said. "So that was huge."
Turner had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Jon Diebler added 22 points to lead the Buckeyes over the Seminoles, clinching the Big Ten's first victory in 11 years of its annual series with the ACC.
The conferences came into the night with three wins apiece in head-to-head matchups. Wisconsin's 73-69 upset of No. 6 Duke set the stage for the Buckeyes (6-1) to put the Big Ten over the top, ending a decade of frustration against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta reluctantly conceded that the win meant a little extra.
"It does, I guess," he said. "It's so hard because the Big Ten is a great conference and the ACC is a great conference. It's a unique situation for early in the year. I'm proud of our guys that on Dec. 2 we've played three top 25 teams already."
Reserve Jeremie Simmons added 14 points for the Buckeyes, who improved to just 3-5 in the annual series with the ACC, with another win vacated by NCAA violations in 2000.
At the end, after the Big Ten had won six of the 11 matchups, Ohio State's student section chanted, "Big Ten! Big Ten!"
"We weren't really focused on that," Diebler said of the showdown between the conferences. "We were just trying to close out this game."
Solomon Alabi had 21 points for the Seminoles (6-2), perhaps road weary after playing their last six games away from home. Chris Singleton, the MVP of last weekend's Old Spice Classic, fouled out with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Buckeyes led by 11 at halftime and maintained their lead while both teams traded misses and occasional baskets for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half.
Ahead 43-34 and with the Seminoles hanging around, the Buckeyes finally pulled away. Simmons hit a 3 from the right side off an assist from Turner. Turner then double-clutched on a short shot along the baseline and completed a three-point play. Simmons drilled another 3 and Kyle Madsen tipped in his own miss to swell the lead to 54-32.
Florida State never got closer than 11 points again.
"A lot of people know how tough this conference is," Diebler said, defending the Big Ten's failures in the past against the ACC. "But what it comes down to is at the end of March. A year ago, that was a Big Ten team [Michigan State] and an ACC team [North Carolina] for the national title."
The loudest roar might have come when Wisconsin's victory was announced with just under 4 minutes remaining. The crowd of 13,514 knew what Ohio State's impending win meant.
The teams combined to shoot just over 30 percent from the field, but the Buckeyes built a 31-20 halftime lead behind Diebler's 3-pointers. The junior hit 5 of 8 from behind the arc for 15 points, while Turner added 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
"I've got to take my hat off to Diebler," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We had a difficult time finding him in the first half."
Florida State held sway along the frontcourt, but couldn't hit anything from the perimeter and played fast and loose with the ball. The Seminoles had 12 turnovers -- many unforced errors -- to more than offset a 25-18 rebounding advantage.
"Our defense, especially in the first half, was really effective for what we wanted to get done," Matta said.
They came in among the national leaders in defense, limiting their opponents to 33 percent shooting from the field. The Buckeyes, seventh in the country in accuracy from the field at 52.2 percent, mustered just 32 percent in the opening half but hit 7 of 16 3-pointers.
The Seminoles fell to 7-4 in the annual matchup with Big Ten teams.
"We got beat by a team tonight that played with a lot more energy at the defensive end," Hamilton said. "They kept us from getting into any rhythm on offense."
Hunter sped to the interview room before some of the reporters could get there. He said there was no reason to cut down the nets.
"I think they were trying to get us out of there," he said with a laugh. "We all want to head home. I didn't want to keep you guys waiting."
The wait finally ended for the Big Ten.