Ohio State Drills Visiting Nebraska

#25 Ohio State returned back home to the Schott and it was a successful return, blasting Nebraska 90-54 in their lone meeting of the season, to move to 8-2 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play. Utilizing a 15-0 run midway through the first half, the Buckeyes took an early back and forth game and never looked back, taking a 17 point halftime lead to 40 in less than 9 minutes to blow away hapless Nebraska and send the Huskers to their 3 loss in as many Big Ten games. Justin Ahrens led five Buckeyes in double figures with 18, on six triples. Zed Key added 14, while Duane Washington Jr. found his stroke early in the second half and finished with 13. Justice Sueing chipped in 12 and Seth Towns scored 11.

The Buckeyes got the scoring started as C.J. Walker found the trailing Kyle Young in transition for a short jumper. The Huskers grabbed the early lead, scoring the next four, but Ohio State came back to tie it and at the first media timeout, the score was deadlocked at six as Ohio State’s outside shooting continued to struggle.  The Buckeyes grabbed a two-point lead over the next four minutes with Zed Key scoring 6 of the next 9 Buckeye points, while Nebraska found a little range, drilling a pair of triples to keep the game close, while Ohio State was 0 for 5 from long range in the early going. The Buckeye D then went to work, locking down Nebraska on the defensive end and the offense finally found some rhythm. Duane Washington Jr. scored on a floater in the lane and after a Nebraska miss, E.J. Liddell drilled a three from the top to put Ohio State up 7. The Buckeye run continued as Justin Ahrens buried a three from the right wing to put the Buckeyes up 10 and on a 10-0 run heading into the under 8 media timeout as Nebraska had gone over 5 minutes without scoring. Out of the timeout, Justice Sueing penetrated the lane and kicked to the right wing where Seth Towns calmly buried a three and the Buckeyes led by 13. On the next possession, Sueing intercepted a pass at the top and raced down to the other end for a layup and the Buckeye run extended to 15 straight. Nebraska scored the next 3, all from the line, to trim the lead to 12 before the Buckeyes upped the lead right back to 15 and at the under 4 media timeout, Ohio State led 33-18. The Huskers finally broke a streak of over 10 minutes without a field goal, hitting a triple with 3 minutes left in the half to cut the lead to 12 but a Sueing triple, his first in three ball games, answered and a pair of Key free throws gave the Buckeyes a 38-21 halftime lead.  The Buckeyes, despite hitting just 4 of 14 from long range and just under 44% overall, had the big lead thanks to even poorer shooting from Nebraska, as the Huskers hit just 3 of 16 from long range and just 6 of 29 overall, including 1 of their last 18. Zed Key and Justice Sueing led Ohio State at the break with 8 each, while E.J. Liddell added 6.

A Nebraska old-fashioned three-point play started the second half as the Huskers cut the lead to 14 but that is as close as they would get. Kyle Young answered with a jump hook and after a Nebraska miss, C.J. Walker found E.J. Liddell along the baseline for a dunk to put the Buckeyes up 18. After a Nebraska bucket cut the lead to 16, back to back Duane Washington three’s and a Seth Towns 15 footer off the glass from the right wing put the Buckeyes up 50-26 and on a 12-2 run, scoring 12 points on 5 second half possessions, forcing Nebraska to call timeout with 16:19 left in the game. A pair of Jimmy Sotos free throws and a Sueing runner ballooned the lead to 28 before a Nebraska hoop slowed the bleeding for the Huskers momentarily. Two free throws each from Towns and Key preceded a Kyle Young dunk off a lob from Washington and a Washington triple put Ohio State up 63-28 at the under 12 media timeout. The onslaught continued out of the break after a Husker free throw, Ahrens drilled a triple and Key scored on back-to-back possessions in traffic to put Ohio State up 70-29. Six straight Husker points cut into the lead slightly, but an Ahrens triple and a Sueing bucket off penetration put Ohio State back up 40. A pair of Nebraska free throws was followed by another Ahrens three and Ohio State led by 41 and at the final media timeout of the game, with the benches clearing, Ohio State led Nebraska 82-44. Back to back Ahrens threes sandwiched a Nebraska three to put the Buckeyes up 88-49 as Ohio State had a pair of walk-ons on the floor for the final 4 plus minutes to complete the blowout.

A much needed bounce back game for Ohio State following the heartbreaking loss on the road to Northwestern on Saturday that puts the Buckeyes back in the thick of a hotly contested Big Ten race. It took a while but Ohio State finally started finding their stroke from deep, namely Justin Ahrens and Duane Washington, and they will need to improve their consistency from the outside as more and more teams pack the lane and force them to win games from the outside. They continue to do work on the glass, out rebounding Nebraska by 10 for the game, which has been a trend in the early Big Ten season. They have also shown they can score in the paint and have been very efficient at the free throw line (80% tonight), but until the outside shooting gains traction, Ohio State won’t be able to reach their ceiling. It was also another step forward for Seth Towns, who saw extended minutes for the first time this season and converted on the offensive end, which adds another weapon. He still has work to do in his conditioning on the defensive end but certainly, he can be a big asset to this Buckeye team as they move forward into January. The Buckeyes were playing this one without Musa Jallow, out due to COVID contract tracing, but he is expected back as early as this weekend and his length will be needed defensively.

The Buckeyes will hit the road for their next challenge, heading to Minneapolis to play the surprising 21st ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tip time for that game is scheduled for 5:30 PM to be aired on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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