Following a road loss to Indiana on Friday, the Ohio State men’s basketball team needed a win against Nebraska to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
They did just that, dominating the Cornhuskers, 71-40, at the Schottenstein Center in the teams’ first matchup as Big Ten conference foes.
OSU’s defense made an impact from the opening tip. Nebraska hauled in the first possession, but tight Buckeye defense forced a shot clock violation.
It was a sign of things to come.
Through the game’s first eight minutes, OSU forced seven turnovers and the Buckeyes jumped out to a 17-4 lead.
A layup from Nebraska’s Corey Hilliard got the Cornhuskers within 10, but on the ensuing possession, OSU sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas out-jumped Nebraska’s defenders to grab the offensive rebound and finished at the rim despite being fouled.
Two OSU possessions later, sophomore forward Jared Sullinger spun away from the Nebraska defense near the right baseline, absorbed a foul, and kissed the ball off the backboard before it landed through the net. He sunk the free throw and gave OSU a 31-15 lead.
Nebraska never showed signs of threatening again.
OSU’s quick lead allowed Buckeye coach Thad Matta to look to the bench early. Eleven players saw playing time in the first half and eight Buckeyes scored.
Sullinger led the way, scoring 12 points including a fall-away 3-pointer before time expired to give the Buckeyes a 44-20 lead at intermission.
But Sullinger’s 3-pointer doesn’t tell the story for the Buckeyes offensively.
OSU pounded the ball inside all night, finishing the game with 42 points in the paint, in large part due to Sullinger and Thomas finishing an easy opportunities.
Sullinger finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Thomas added 15 points and 4 rebounds. Senior guard William Buford also finished in double figures with 13 points. Overall, OSU shot 54 percent from the floor while holding Nebraska to 31 percent shooting.
The win gives the Buckeyes a 14-2 overall record and a 2-1 record in conference play.
Nebraska’s record drops to 8-6 on the year and 0-3 in the conference.
OSU next takes the floor Saturday, Jan. 7, in a road game against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Opening tip is set for 3 p.m..