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Ohio State’s road struggles continue, falling to Nebraska 83-69

The Buckeyes started strong, but struggled to knock down shots and could not overcome a career game from Rienk Mast

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, the Ohio State Men’s Basketball (13-6, 3-5) team fell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-5, 5-4) 83-69 in Lincoln. Rienk Mast recorded 34 points and nine rebounds as the Huskers went ahead late in the first half and never looked back. This is the best 20-game start for the Huskers since 1990-91.

Ohio State got off to a hot start, knocking down its first four field goals and taking a 9-7 lead into the first media timeout. The Buckeyes started hot from the field, going 8-for-14, 2-for-3. However, they missed eight of its next nine shots but still led 26-23 with six minutes left in the half.

Nebraska started connecting from behind the arc, with Rienk Mast knocking down 3-of-4 three-pointers and recording 13 first-half points. He was averaging 12.5 points per game.

At the half, Nebraska led Ohio State 43-35 after a Bruce Thornton jumper was followed up by a Brice Williams tip-in. Mast led Nebraska with 13 points, and Brice Williams added nine points for the Huskers.

For Ohio State, Bruce Thornton led the way with 11 points, and Evan Mahaffey had six points. Jamison Battle recorded five points and five rebounds.

Nebraska scored to start the second half to give them a 10-point lead, but back-to-back three-pointers from Bruce Thornton and Jamison Battle cut the Husker lead to four.

After some back-and-forth basketball, the Buckeyes and Huskers got back-to-back three-pointers from C.J. Wilcher and Mast, and Nebraska led 57-47 with 12 minutes remaining.

After two free throws from Eli Rice, the Huskers took a 59-47 lead. Mast knocked down two more three-pointers, and the Huskers started to pull away, leading 65-49. The two three-pointers gave Mast six on the night, his previous high being four. He was 6-for-7 from three.

The Buckeye's struggles continued from the field, as they brought in Bowen Hardman, who has only played 12 minutes this season, to try and provide some spark off the bench. He did knock down two three-pointers on five attempts.

The Buckeyes fell 83-69 as they could never close the gap.

Road Woes

The difficulty the Buckeyes have had winning away from Columbus has been well-documented. The Buckeyes lost 12 straight road games entering this contest in Lincoln, and their last road win came on Jan. 1, 2023, at Northwestern, a game they won easily.

On the other hand, Nebraska has played its best basketball at home, earning wins over Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana, and Northwestern in conference play.

Evan Mahaffey gets comfortable

Evan Mahaffey, a sophomore transfer from Penn State, has been a starter all season for the Buckeyes, and while he has been great on defense, he has yet to really make an impact on the offense end. That changed Saturday against his former school on Saturday when he recorded 16 points and five rebounds and was the leading scorer in’ the Buckeyes' 79-67 win.

If Mahaffey can turn into an eight to ten-point scorer a game, that could be the scoring help they need from a fourth option.

Scotty Middleton returns

The Buckeye's top freshman, Scotty Middleton, missed the Buckeye's win over Penn State due to a suspension for a violation of team rules. The suspension’s length was unknown at the time, but it ended up being just one game. Middleton is averaging 4.7 points per game and 1.8 rebounds per game in 16.8 minutes per game.

Hot shooting Huskers

Nebraska has shot the three-ball well all season, and this one was no different. The Huskers shot 5-for-9 from three during its 30-13 run in the first half. Through the first 30 minutes of the game, the Huskers shot 10-for-22 from three, while the Buckeyes were 4-for-13 from three-point range through the same time period.

Career game from Rienk Mast

Rienk Mast, a graduate senior transfer from Bradley, has had a great season for the Huskers, averaging 12.5 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game. However, he had a career game against Ohio State, knocking down six three-pointers and scoring 28 points through the first 31 minutes of the game.

Bowen Hardman sees the floor

Sophomore guard Bowen Hardman, who has only played in six games this season for 12 minutes, entered the game with six minutes left and the Buckeyes down by 16. Hardman immediately shot five three-pointers, going 3-for-6 from the field and recording eight points.