The Buckeyes are again away from home, taking on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the second time this season. Recall that the Buckeyes took care of business at home by 31 immediately before starting their three game slide.
The game will start at 7:00 PM Eastern on the Big Ten Network. Stop by and chat with all of your favorite Buckeye bloggers and friends! Go Bucks!
The Buckeyes are hoping to get back on the winning track versus Nebraska after a rough opening to the meat of conference play. Unfortunately, road wins tend to be harder to come by.
That goes double for this conference.
Thad Matta’s Buckeyes have now lost three games in a row at Michigan State, at home against Iowa, and at Minnesota. That murderer’s row wasn’t considered to be the toughest stretch in the conference slate, which does not bode well for the remainder of the season. This is also the first time Matta has lost three games in a row since 2008-2009, when games at Wisconsin (55-50), at Northwestern (72-69), and at home against Illinois (70-68) got the Buckeyes. That year was also the last time Fran McCaffery got the better of Thad Matta, as the Buckeyes fell to Siena in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Now that we’ve gotten the doom and gloom out of the way, it’s time to talk about the positives. The Buckeyes have been playing terrible basketball the last three games. The turnover numbers alone for Scott and Craft (26 in three games) are appalling, and the team as a whole have committed 51 in the same span. This is not typical Thad Matta basketball, and I’m sure he’s working hard to get the problems cleared up.
“Wait, I thought you said the doom and gloom was over?”
The Buckeyes welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to Columbus for the first OSU home game in the Big Ten this season. Through the first half, the Huskers gave as good as they got, sticking with the Buckeyes before falling apart late in the first half as the Buckeyes claimed a 84-53 victory. The Buckeyes were led in scoring by Amadeo Della Valle, who both scored 15 points on 5/5 shooting, 3/3 from beyond the arc. Joining him in double digits were Marc Loving and Shannon Scott with 13, LaQuinton Ross with 11, and Amir Williams with 10. For Nebraska, Terran Petteway tied ADV in scoring with 15, followed by Leslee Smith with 11.
The game started sluggishly for both squads in this early Saturday matchup. Neither team found much easy success against the opponents defense, except when a breakdown occured after a long rebound sequence. Ohio State’s issue, continuing from their game against Purdue, was the inability to buy a basket early, struggling with their shooting from all areas of the court, including free throws.
Despite Nebraska missing their big 7-1 boomer in the paint, Sergej Vucetic, due to the flu, the Huskers were not afraid of attacking the paint. They worked hard getting the ball low, and fought hard on the box-outs to earn themselves tough offensive rebounds. By being patient and taking what was available against the gritty OSU defense, Nebraska earned themselves a four point lead before the second TV timeout.
It helped Nebraska significantly that the Buckeyes seemed lethargic and uninterested in the game. While the defense was there, it didn’t have the same energy that they usually execute with. This reflected on the offensive end too, with sloppy shooting, and half-hearted motions. Finally, a little bit of intensity on the defensive end flipped Sam Thompson’s offensive switch, spurring him to score four unanswered points – his first in Big Ten play this season.
[Before I get started on the preview, I want to mention that this article is a bit of a milestone for me. It was nearly one year ago (January 1st, 2013) when my first "official" article appeared as part of tBBC Staff. The article was a preview of a men's basketball game between Ohio State and Nebraska. It's been a great year, thank you all for stopping by our corner of the Buckeye-verse and I can't believe the Editors are still letting me do this..]
The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (14-0, 1-0) opened Big Ten Conference play on Tuesday with a win at Purdue. The return home for a Saturday tip-off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-5, 0-1).
Here’s Nebraska’s Profile
Ohio State came into the Big Ten Tournament looking to simply have fun, and they sure found it in a 71-50 drubbing of Nebraska. It didn’t look like it would go that way early, but excellent play to start the second half managed to put the game out of reach. DeShaun Thomas and Sam Thompson led all scorers with 19 points, while LaQuinton Ross saw double figures for only the fourth time in Big Ten play with 11. Nebraska had two players reach double digits with Brandon Ubel’s 16, and Shavon Shields’ 14.
As has appeared to be typical for them this year, the Bucks started the first 10 minutes struggling to find their game. It wasn’t until the mid-point of the first half that the Buckeye point guards began to find their scoring rhythm. Craft and Scott both scored 5 critical points a piece to give the Bucks a one point lead off a 10-0 run. Once they were able to claim the lead, they did not relinquish it again in the half. However, they also weren’t able to build much headway on it when Nebraska switched into a 2-3 zone. It was only in the last few seconds that an ill-advised Nebraska foul* put DeShaun Thomas on the line for three free throws that gave OSU a five point lead.
The Bucks came out of the gate in the second half firing on all cylinders. They completely shut down the Huskers for the opening four and a half minutes and blitzed out on an 11-0 run to start to put the game away. Before too long, the Buckeyes had opened a 24 point lead and began to play games with their lineup. That ended up helping the Huskers out, not surprisingly, as they were able to close the lead back to 16 before Matta brought the majority of his starters back into the game. That only lasted as long as it took to whittle the time down to the point where he felt comfortable enough to give Alex Rogers some time on the floor.
Despite the sloppy start, this kind of finish was exactly what the Buckeyes needed in the start of tournament play. Matta may want them to have a good time, but they still need to play quality Basketball – and there’s nothing stopping them from doing both. They demonstrated that with a vengence today.
The Buckeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament as the #2 seed, earning a first round bye. Their opponent for the second round are the 10th seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers, who notched an impressive 57-55 upset over the 7-seed Purdue Boilermakers yesterday.
Today’s game is scheduled for 6:30 PM EST on ESPN. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
School: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Location: Lincoln, NE
Student Population: 19,345
School Type: Public – Land Grant
Stadium: Bob Devaney Sports Center
Head Coach: Tim Miles
Experience: 1st year at Nebraska
Four times the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers have played on the hardwood, and four times the Buckeyes have picked up a win. Tonight, the Buckeyes added a fifth with a 70-44 win in Columbus to start Big Ten play. As usual, DeShaun Thomas led all scorers with 22 points and 7 rebounds. He was closely followed today by Lenzelle Smith who picked up 17 points and 6 rebounds. Nebraska’s sharpshooter, Ray Gallegos, picked up 14 points on horrendous 4-17 shooting for the day. Also notable were Aaron Craft’s game high 8 assists, and Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams combining for 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Ohio State started out strong against Nebraska, blitzing out to a quick lead early by attacking the paint and strategically choosing their outside looks. Not surprisingly Nebraska countered by using a 3-2 zone to limit the inside passing lanes. The change effectively slowed the Buckeyes down for enough time for the Cornhuskers to close the score. However, Ohio State closed out the half on a 9-0 run to more than double Nebraska’s score going into the locker rooms.
The Cornhuskers switched back to man defense in the hopes of keeping the Bucks off-balance, but it only served to make the job easier. Ohio State raced out on a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the half, effectively ending any chance of Nebraska seriously threatening down the stretch in this one.
This was a good warmup for the next couple games. The Buckeyes have a rough four games ahead of them, so it was good to see the team excited to play a conference game. The effort was promising, and if they can keep it up through the year good things are bound to happen. The next big step, of course, is figuring out the shooting, which hopefully comes sooner rather than later. Lenzelle Smith certainly demonstrated the skill is there tonight, if only he could be consistent about it.