Thad Matta's coaching accomplishments in 10 seasons at Ohio State dazzle.
Five Big Ten championships. Four conference tournament titles. Seven NCAA trips. Five advancements in that tourney to at least the Sweet 16, including the Final Four twice.
So how do the Buckeyes, ranked third nationally on Jan. 6, lose Monday night to Nebraska, which hadn't won a game in a month and lost to OSU by 31 points on Jan. 4?
Matta calmly took a seat in the Pinnacle Bank Arena interview room and softly stated what causes Big Ten coaches to lose sleep.
“You have to respect this league,” he said. “Know that it is hard. It is hard.”
After a 15-0 start, all of a sudden Ohio State is on a four-game skid, its longest in six seasons.
But it's no crime. Loss No. 1 was in overtime at No. 7 Michigan State. Loss No. 2 was to No. 20 Iowa after holding a nine-point second-half lead. Loss No. 3 was at up-and-coming Minnesota.
Then, at Nebraska, where OSU's recent shooting woes and looks of doubt were evident.
“We need consistency,” Matta said. “We play our way back into it after something doesn't go well, but the thing I see most is we are not able to answer the call. We are clinging to our mistakes. You have to play forward.”
Husker coach Tim Miles can relate, having just endured a five-game losing string.
“This is a difficult thing we're involved in,” Miles said. “Look at the next opponent, Penn State (0-6 in league play). They had three or four games they had won, and they just found a way to lose.
“I don't think from top to bottom it matters. We have to continue to get better, having an attitude of 'be a better player, be a better teammate' every day.”
Big Ten honors
Player of the week: Michigan guard Nik Stauskas. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, averaged 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in wins over Penn State and Wisconsin.
Rookie of the week: Indiana forward Noah Vonleh. The 6-11 freshman from Haverhill, Mass., averaged 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in a win over Wisconsin and a loss to Northwestern.
Quote of the week
Nebraska guard Terran Petteway on dancing with the students who stormed the court after the win over Ohio State:
“That never happened to me before. I was so tired from jumping up and down. I played a whole game and wasn't tired, but when I was doing that, it was like, 'I've got to get out of here.'”
Stat of the week
Nebraska defeated Ohio State despite the following horror story from its final six possessions of the first half and first 10 of the second: 11 turnovers, 1 of 4 field goals and 0 of 1 free throws.