One man does not a team make, and Nebraska found that out the hard way as the Huskers (14-8, 5-4) dropped another resume-building game at No. 13 Ohio State (18-4, 9-0), 64-59, on Tuesday.
James Palmer Jr. exploded for a career-high 34 points on 11-of-18 from the field, 5-of-11 from 3 and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
The rest of the team combined for 25 points on 10-of-36 shooting overall, 3-of-18 from 3 and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe.
With 4:36 to play, Anton Gill gave Nebraska its final lead of the game with a 3-pointer that put the Huskers up 54-53.
Here are Nebraska’s offensive possessions the rest of the way: missed 3 by Gill; missed bonus free throw by Isaiah Roby; turnover by Roby; two made free throws by Palmer; shot-clock violation; two missed 3s, one each by Roby and Watson; a missed layup by Palmer and then a missed 3 by Copeland; a missed 3 by Copeland then a 3 by Palmer.
When the dust settled, Nebraska was left with yet another disappointing loss against a good team.
Copeland was Nebraska’s second-leading scorer with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting. Palmer is the only Husker who made more than two field goals.
The game included four ties and 11 lead changes with both teams leading for more than 16 minutes.
The first half was an offensive struggle for both teams as the score at the first media timeout read 2-2. Nebraska found a bit of a rhythm, ripping off an 8-1 run to take a 12-5 lead. Ohio State got a layup from senior Jae’Sean Tate, but Nebraska countered with a hook shot from Jordy Tshimanga at the 12-minute mark.
Nebraska went ice cold after that as the Huskers went nearly seven minutes without converting a field goal. Ohio State used a 10-2 run to take its first lead of the game at 17-16. Palmer finally ended the drought with a layup then Roby followed it up with a dunk on the next possessions, putting the Huskers up 20-17.
Ohio State scored the next two buckets to take the lead again, but Palmer answered with another layup for Nebraska. After missing on their first six 3-point attempts, the Buckeyes finally knocked one down as CJ Jackson gave Ohio State a 24-22 lead that it took into halftime.
The Huskers shot 8-of-26 from the field and 2-of-15 from 3 in the first 20 minutes with Palmer accounting for half of Nebraska’s points. However, the Huskers held Ohio State to 9-of-25 from the field and 1-of-8 from deep.
Nebraska pulled within one a couple of times and then tied it at 38-all with 11:42 to play on a bucket by Palmer, but Ohio State star wing Keita Bates-Diop scored eight straight Buckeye poi its to put his team back up by five.
Nebraska used an 8-0 run sparked by Glynn Watson Jr.’s only bucket of the game and capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Palmer to take its first lead of the second half at 49-46.
Bates-Diop scored the next four points to put Ohio State back in the lead, but Evan Taylor scored on a run-out to make it 51-50. Andre Wesson buried a 3 for Ohio State, but Gill knocked down his own triple to put the Huskers up 54-53 and set the stage for Nebraska’s offensive collapse down the stretch.
With Nebraska trailing 60-56, Coach Tim Miles called timeout with 9 seconds on the shot clock after the Huskers failed to get into any kind of action on offense. After the break, the Huskers got the ball inside to Copeland, who held onto the ball until the buzzer sounded, seemingly oblivious to how much time was on the clock.
On the ensuing possession for Ohio State, the Buckeyes ran down the clock and scored at the rim with 68 seconds to play. Needing points in a hurry, the Huskers missed their next five shots — including three 3s — before Palmer finally connected with 12 seconds to play. Down five, Nebraska chose not to foul and let the clock expire.
Nebraska held the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Bates-Diop to six points on 2-of-5 shooting in the first half, but the 6-foot-7 junior exploded in the second for 14 to finish with 20 points, pacing a group of four Buckeyes in double figures.
After scoring a career-high 14 points against Michigan, Roby mustered just two against the Buckeyes, matching Watson’s scoring contributions.
Nebraska’s road trip continues as the Huskers will head to Rutgers next for a Wednesday night meeting. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on BTN.
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.