Ohio State continued Nebrasketball’s initiation into the B1G with a 71-40 shucking of the Huskers at The Schott, in a game that the Buckeyes could have won without scoring a single second-half point. Jared Sullinger scored 19 points to go with his 12 rebounds. Deshaun Thomas chipped in 15 points and four boards, with William Buford adding 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, but he did have a very sloppy night at times, finishing with a career high six turnovers. In fact, Ohio State followed a 17-turnover performance at Indiana on Saturday with 19 more against Nebraska, which can’t be good for Thad Matta’s blood pressure. Aaron Craft set the tone with his swoon-worthy defense, finishing with four points, four assists, five rebounds and three steals, against only one turnover. The Buckeyes improved to 14-2 overall and 2-1 in the B1G. Nebraska falls to 8-6 (0-3).
The Buckeyes hit 17 of their first 21 two-point attempts in the game, but it was the defense that really carried the day. The Buckeyes allowed only 20 points in each half. Ohio State broke an early 4-4 tie with a 13-0 run and never looked back, closing the first half with a 41-20 lead. Sully’s 12 points and six boards before the break led the way, with Tank (9 points) and Buford (8 points) significantly contributing to the carnage. The defense held Nebraska to 33.3% shooting (8-24) and Ohio State controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Huskers 17-7. Ohio State shot 67.9% in the first half, despite going just 2-7 outside the arc. Toney McCray did what he could to keep the Huskers in it, pouring in nine of his team’s 20 in the opening 20 minutes.
As Ohio State’s shooting cooled in the second half (dropping to 53.6% after halftime, including a putrid 2-17 from three for 11.8%), the rebounding disparity grew. The Buckeyes finished with a huge 44-21 edge on the glass (14-4 on the offensive end). After the break, Nebraska outscored Ohio State 8-7 in the first three minutes of the second period, but Sully tipped in a rebound and scored on a layup off a Lenzelle Smith Jr. pass, then Thomas threw down a one-handed jam on the break off a Buford assist, kicking off a 9-2 run and pushing the lead beyond 30. All that was left was to make sure the fans went home with free French fries by hitting the 70-point mark and watching J.D. Weatherspoon’s athletic dunks.
The bench got significant minutes with the score being so lopsided. Weatherspoon scored six points and Evan Ravenel added five. Amir Williams scored on a put-back and LaQuinton Ross hit a pair of free throws. Weatherspoon and Ravenel were a combined 5-5 from the field, but the rest of the bench was just 1-13, including a horrific 0-7 outside the arc. As a team, the Buckeyes missed all 10 three-point tries after halftime. The combination of the abysmal three-point shooting and the 19 turnovers might have been fatal against a good basketball team, but Nebraska is not a good basketball team, especially missing two of the team’s top four scorers. But the Buckeyes did the things we told you about in the preview, getting the ball inside to Sully often. Buford was involved, despite the turnovers. Tank did his thing on the boards and inside. Craft and Smith played great defense. The microcosm of what Ohio State is about came in the first half when Sullinger beat the collapsing defense with a cross-court pass to Craft, who quickly dished to Smith for an open trey, which he hit.
The Huskers turned the ball over 17 times, which pretty much negated their 13 steals. Nebraska hit only 16-52 (30.8%) of their field goals and just 2-18 (11.1%) from deep. McCray led the Huskers with 13 points. Brandon Richardson scored 11 points and added seven steals. Bo Spencer entered averaging 15 points per game but scored only 10.
Ohio State travels to Iowa for a Saturday afternoon tilt against Iowa. The Buckeyes will travel to Lincoln for the rematch on Jan. 21.
Notes: The victory over Nebraska was Ohio State’s 56th consecutive home win against an unranked opponent, the longest such streak in the nation…Ohio State has won four straight against Nebraska and is 4-0 against the Huskers in Columbus and 5-2 overall…The Buckeyes have won 35 straight home games…The game was Nebraska’s first ever Big Ten road game…Nebraska has lost all three of its B1G games by double figures…Buford is now 78 points behind Jay Burson for 7th on the all-time OSU scoring list…Buford tied Herb Williams for eighth with his 114th start…Sully’s double-double was his eighth of the season and 26th of his career.