Offensive woes early on and defensive struggles throughout doomed Nebraska on the road on Tuesday as the Huskers fell at No. 21 Ohio State 80-68.
Jervay Green gave the Huskers (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten) a spark in his first action since Nebraska’s loss to Rutgers, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting (2-of-4 from 3) and grabbing four rebounds in 17 minutes. The Huskers outscored the Buckeyes (12-5, 2-4) by two with Green on the floor, but Nebraska had already dug a double-digit deficit by the time he took the court.
Thorir Thorbjarnarson led the Huskers with 15 points (all in the second half) on 5-of-11 shooting, hitting a career-high five 3-pointers on eight attempts. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists. Cam Mack had 10 points and six assists but shot 5-of-15 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
Yvan Ouedraogo added 10 points and five rebounds (four offensive). The Huskers played the Buckeyes to a draw in Ouedraogo’s 30 minutes. Dachon Burke Jr. and Haanif Cheatham combined for 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Nebraska shot 42.4% from the field after a frigid first half.
The Buckeyes had six players score in double figures led by CJ Walker with a season-high 18. Star center Kaleb Wesson had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Ohio State shot 54.5% from the field including 10-of-22 from 3. The Buckeyes outscored Nebraska by 3 from the perimeter and by seven from the free-throw line.
Nebraska got off to a good defensive start as the Buckeyes missed their first five shots after turning the ball over on the first possession of the game, but the Huskers weren’t much better on offense with the only four points coming on a pair of layups by Burke.
Then Andre Wesson got loose, hitting a 3-pointer on three straight possessions to put the Buckeyes up 9-4. The Huskers got a free throw from Ouedraogo and then a layup from Mack on a steal in the backcourt, but Ohio State ripped off an 8-0 run fueled by four Nebraska turnovers to take a 10-point lead.
Mack ended the run with a tough layup inside, but Ohio Sate continued to have success on the other end, taking its biggest lead of the half at 24-11 after a 3 from freshman DJ Carton. Nebraska briefly cut it to nine before Kyle Young put together a personal 6-0 run to push it to 15.
After trading scores, Green checked in after logging DNPs in Nebraska’s previous two games. Shortly after entering, he grabbed a rebound, pushed the ball up the floor, sized up the defense, crossed his man over and rose up to drill a 3, Nebraska’s first made jumper of the game.
Ohio State pushed the lead to 16 with a 3 from Justin Ahrens after the Huskers missed two looks from deep on the same possession. Burke got a layup on a leak out after an Ohio State turnover then Oeudraogo converted a three-point play, but Ahrens hit a contested toe-on-the-line long 2 at the buzzer to give the Buckeyes a 38-25 lead at halftime.
Nebraska shot 31.4% from the field including 1-of-9 from 3. The Huskers were just 10-of-20 at the rim with Green’s 3 as the only made jumper of the half. Nebraska played Ohio State to a draw in Green’s five minutes while every other Huskers had a negative plus/minus. The Buckeyes shot 5-of-10 from deep.
Nebraska found some offensive rhythm to start the second but didn’t play much defense as Ohio State’s lead bounced between 18 and 13 points. Thorbjarnarson gave the Huskers a spark with three 3-pointers after a scoreless first half, but Ohio State used a 7-0 run capped by a Walker triple to push the lead to 20 at 63-43 with 10:15 to play.
Mack picked up his fourth foul at the 12:32 mark and took a seat for the first time all game, but Hoiberg sent him back out there after Walker’s 3-pointer. The run continued, however. with a layup and a 3-pointer until Nebraska finally put some points on the board with a goal-tended floater by Mack.
The Buckeyes maintained a 20-plus-point advantage until back-to-back 3-pointers by Green and Thorbjarnarson cut it to 17 with just over four minutes to play, but Kaleb Wesson answered with a trey of is own.
Nebraska ended the game on a 12-4 run, but it was too little and far too late to impact the final result.
Nebraska shot 54.8% from the field including 8-of-13 from deep in the second half, but the Buckeyes shot 55.6% and 5-of-12 from 3 as the Huskers only won the second half by one point.
After an 0-2 road trip, the Huskers will return to Pinnacle Bank Arena for a rematch against Indiana on Saturday. The Huskers pushed the Hoosiers to overtime before falling 96-90 in overtime in Bloomington on Dec. 13.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.