The Ohio State Buckeyes (13-6, 3-5) finally got off their losing skid, as they defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-7, 3-6) on the road, 70-60. The win was the first for the Buckeyes in 2019, and ended a five-game losing streak.
Ohio State won the opening tip and, thanks to an assist from Muhammad, secured their first bucket of the game courtesy of Kaleb Wesson. A quick 8-0 run from the Cornhuskers would put the Buckeyes back into an early deficit, but by the first media timeout, OSU had the lead back at 9-8.
Both teams proceeded to trade baskets. Nebraska fell in love with the three ball early — and for good reason. Three of the first four shots from downtown connected for the home team, while Ohio State was 1-of-6 from beyond the arc in the early going. The Cornhuskers had good looks at the basket, and by the second media timeout at 11:57, maintained a 13-12 lead.
A pair of layups from Isaiah Roby and Thomas Allen, and a step-back jumper from Isaac Copeland pushed the Huskers up 19-12. Keyshawn Woods had the answer for some of the deficit, as second-chance shots from inside and downtown brought OSU within two, 19-17. Palmer rattled a three of his own to give NEB a 22-17 lead, and at the next break in the action, the Buckeyes still trailed.
However, they wouldn’t be trailing for much longer. A 6-0 run sparked by Andre Wesson, Muhammad and Woods got OSU out of the hole, and into a 23-22 lead with 5:22 before intermission.
Nebraska, on the other hand, was in a funk; they went over 4:25 without a point and made only one shot over a seven-attempt stretch. Chris Holtmann’s decision to switch up the defensive strategy —going to a 2-3 zone— appeared to cause havoc for Tim Miles’ squad. Andre Wesson connected on another layup to pace the run at 8-0.
Both teams would swap two-pointers before Muhammad dunked the final basket of the half.
.@OhioStateHoops coming in hot.— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) January 26, 2019
Luther Muhammad finishes the slam, and the Bucks lead at the half in Lincoln: pic.twitter.com/aR0l9bvQvY
At the break, OSU was dominating the rebound total. With a 25-12 margin, the Buckeyes were able to corral second chances, while limiting Nebraska’s chance for put-backs. The Buckeyes also lead in paint points, 20-10. Layups and second-chance opportunities were a big reason for that advantage down low. Andre Wesson led the first half scoring efforts with seven, while Palmer was leading all players on the floor with eight.
Leading by five, 29-24, Ohio State’s nine turnovers kept the Cornhuskers in the game. Kaleb Wesson had the most turnovers in the first half with three, but he did manage to stay out of foul trouble — only collecting one in the first 20 minutes of action.
To begin the second half, Copeland nailed a three. On the other end of the floor, he went down after a whistle, and ended up leaving the game. A shot clock violation on the Bucks led to an inside layup from Tanner Borchardt. Within two minutes of second half play, the game was tied at 29-29.
C.J. Jackson made the team’s first basket of the half (a three-pointer), but would foul Glynn Watson Jr. on the other end; who would make both free throws. Roby popped a three of his own, which brought a roar to the crowd. At the under-16 media timeout, the game was squared at 36-36.
The stalemate would then be broken by another OSU run. Jackson and Muhammad had second-chance baskets, and Kaleb Wesson worked a layup. Nebraska had a mix of offensive deficiencies during this stretch. Their scoring drought lasted over 3:40, which involved four straight misses and a trio of turnovers.
Nebraska chipped away at OSU’s 44-38 lead with a pair of free throws from Watson. A stop in action came on the following possession, as the referees reviewed a foul on Kaleb Wesson; the final outcome of the review was a hook-and-hold, a flagrant-one violation. Borchardt went to the line, where he split the free throws.
@OhioStateHoops up 10— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) January 26, 2019
The Buckeyes are feelin' it at the home of the Huskers: pic.twitter.com/60tKfsrlDZ
Kaleb made up for his flagrant with a three-point make from the far wing. Combined with another triple from Muhammad, the Bucks had a 50-41 lead. More rim-rattling shots from Nebraska came, but none of them fell through the hoop. At the 8-minute media timeout, the Buckeyes maintained a double-digit lead, 56-43.
A spark was lit for the Huskers with under seven minute remaining. Cutting the deficit to 56-49, the home team was primed to make a run in the closing minutes. That was until Muhammad nailed a three from the center of the arc. The ball, which seemed to be shot from the neighboring state, bounced off the rim and backboard before falling through the hoop. It was a momentum swiping basket, and kept the Buckeyes at a 59-49 advantage when a timeout was taken with 3:42 left in regulation.
Draining the clock became the main objective for Ohio State. While there were some turnovers down the stretch from the visitors, the Cornhuskers couldn’t hit their shots or get second-chance breaks. The losing skid ended for the Buckeyes, as they took home their third straight victory in Lincoln.
Ohio State is back in action on Tuesday, as they’ll travel to Crisler Arena to face Michigan. It’ll be in primetime at 9 p.m. ET, and will air on ESPN2. For the Buckeyes, a win against the Wolverines would go a long way in helping their NCAA Tournament résumé.