COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nebraska survived third-ranked Ohio State’s first big surge Saturday afternoon. But the second, third and fourth outbursts were too much.
The Buckeyes rolled to their 15th straight victory, 84-53, remaining undefeated and sending the Huskers (8-6, 0-2) to their third straight loss.
In three trips to Value City Arena since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska has losses of 31, 26 and 31 points. The Huskers have dropped 36 of their past 40 conference road games.
OSU had six players score between 9 and 15 points and had three times as many made free throws as NU, twice as many assists and half as many turnovers.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles said on his postgame radio show that two things come to mind after starting Big Ten play with back-to-back road losses to ranked teams.
“We’ve got recruiting work to do,” Miles said. “Honestly, I love our guys, but we’re not where we need to be. We know that. We have good players. We’ve just got to go get more of them.
“And we’ve got to be a team that can play defense without fouling consistently. That really cost us.”
Nebraska controlled much of the game’s first 10 minutes.
Guard Ray Gallegos, who didn’t attempt a shot in Tuesday’s loss at Iowa, hit two 3-pointers in the first five minutes. And when guard Terran Petteway stole the ball and converted a layup with 12:53 to go in the half, Nebraska led 14-10.
Ohio State responded with a 17-5 run to take a 27-19 lead. Bench players scored 12 of those 17 points for OSU.
Early foul trouble, Miles said, forced Nebraska to play a three-guard lineup it didn’t want to use in that stretch.
But the Huskers hung around. Four straight points from Petteway, who led NU with 15, plus baskets from Deverell Biggs and Shavon Shields cut the gap to 33-30 with 2:28 left.
Ohio State scored the final seven points of the first half to go up 40-30, again with Nebraska trying to protect Petteway and Shields from further foul woes.
The Buckeyes then used a 13-2 run early in the second half to claim their first 20-point lead at 56-36. When Nebraska missed its final 12 shots of the game, the blowout was complete.
“We fouled too much,” Miles said. “And we allowed 9 of 19 from 3. And we couldn’t turn them over.”
Husker forward Leslee Smith, in his first start, had 11 points and 10 rebounds. He replaced Walter Pitchford, who was slowed Saturday morning by the flu. Pitchford eventually played 14 minutes, producing three points and two rebounds.
Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, a first-team All-Big Ten pick, had nine points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals and no turnovers.
Nebraska plays at 8 p.m. Thursday at home against Michigan, which won its Big Ten opener at Minnesota.