COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 21 Ohio State overwhelmed Nebraska on Tuesday night in an 80-68 win at home, snapping a four-game losing streak and handing NU its 10th loss of the season.
Thorir Thorbjarnarson scored a team-high 15 points, all coming in the second half and all from 3-pointers. Cam Mack added 10 points with six assists, but shot 15 times and battled foul trouble most of the second half. Jervay Green played for the first time since Nebraska’s loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3, clocking in 17 minutes with 10 points.
Nebraska shot 54% in the second half, made eight 3-pointers and finished the game hitting nine of its final 12 attempts. But it was the first half — when NU was 11 of 35 from the floor — that ruined the chances of an upset. The Huskers missed 10 layups in the first half and fell behind by as many as 25 in the first 25 minutes.
“It’s two games in a row now where we’ve dug ourselves a hole in the first half,” coach Fred Hoiberg told the Husker Sports Network postgame. “I know I sound like a broken record, but we just have to have more consistency.”
Ohio State (12-5, 2-4) had no problems scoring, eclipsing 70 points for the first time since a win over Kentucky on Dec. 21. The Buckeyes shot 55%, made 10 3-pointers and were led by CJ Walker, who scored 18 with five rebounds. Six Buckeyes finished with double figures.
Nebraska’s plan — the same as it’s been all season against bigger teams — was to pack the lane and force OSU to make shots from the outside.
Andre Wesson made three 3-pointers in 49 seconds to give OSU a 9-4 lead in the opening minutes. Nebraska never got closer.
“If they were going to beat us, they were gonna beat us in the outside,” Hoiberg said.
The 10 3-pointers by Ohio State were its most since a win over Southeastern Missouri State on Dec. 17.
It is the second game in a row a team has made 10 3-pointers against Nebraska.
Hoiberg brought up Nebraska’s last contest against Northwestern multiple times in his postgame chat with the radio crew, noting “yet again” the Huskers failed to string together 40 good minutes. The first-half offense was a mess, with guards trying to finish over bigger men, which Hoiberg doesn’t want. The second half, when NU scored 43 points, was what Hoiberg looks for, which reminded him of the Northwestern game, when NU fell behind 18 but then fought back.
But the Wildcats shot 26% in the second half on Saturday, which gave NU a chance to tie it in the final minute.
Ohio State shot 55% in the last 20 minutes.
“We did not rotate correctly on their shooters on multiple occasions second half,” Hoiberg said. “We got to find a way to string together stops when we’re making runs like that so we can cut that thing in and have a chance.”
Amid the loss, the story exiting the game was Green, who might find himself back in the rotation after a solid showing. He made NU’s only 3-pointer in the first half, and was the Huskers’ most efficient scorer, making 4 of 6 shots. Green’s four field goals are his most since a loss on Dec. 4 at Georgia Tech.
Charlie Easley, Kevin Cross and Matej Kavas combined for five points (all from Cross) on 2 for 5 shooting with two rebounds and one assist in 26 total minutes of play.
Hoiberg said Green was “solid.”
“It’s not easy to get taken out of the rotation to keep yourself ready like he has,” the coach said. “He’s handled it professional, he’s handled it as well as you possibly can, and it was good to see him back out there tonight playing well.”
The Huskers play at home at 6 p.m. Saturday against Indiana, a team that beat them in overtime in Bloomington last month.
Nebraska.......... 25 43—68
At Ohio State.... 38 42—80
A: 12,954. Officials: Donnie Eppley, Terry Oglesby, Rob Riley.