Buckeye’s Rebound For 70-60 Road Win

The Buckeyes needed a quality win on the road and the earned it as they out-rebounded Nebraska 45-31 on their way to a 70-60 victory. Led by freshman Luther Muhammad’s career high 24 points along with 5 boards and 3 steals, Ohio State perhaps saves their season as they finish out the last week in January.

Both of these teams come into the game on a losing skid. Ohio State had lost their last five games and the Cornhuskers are coming off a bad loss to Rutgers. Two big factors in this stretch for the Buckeyes is foul trouble for Kaleb Wesson, and turnovers. Wesson is missing a lot of floor time and in four of these five games OSU have had more turnovers than assists. Also, OSU’s opponents have been shooting 49% from the floor during the losing streak.

In their last 2 trips to Nebraska OSU has won but both games came down to the wire. In 2016, the Bucks manages a 65-62 win in overtime, and in 2017, they won 67-66 with a quick score on an out-of-bounds play with almost no time left.

Kaleb Wesson won the opening tip and OSU came down and got a quick two to open the game but then Nebraska got the next 8 points to go up 8-2. That did not last long however as Nebraska went cold, the Buckeyes began to manufacture some offense to go up 9-8 at the 15:51 media time out. Then Wesson picks up an unnecessary foul with 14 minutes to go so Coach Holtmann put him on the bench. Both teams when cold and at the second media time out the score was 13-12 in favor of the Huskers, as Ohio State was 1-6 from behind the arc.

At first it appeared that Keyshawn Woods was giving up a couple of open looks, perhaps he was not playing with confidence. OSU does nothing out of the time out, and Nebraska gets two quick baskets under the basket. They were going right at Kaleb Wesson trying to get that second foul. So Holtmann is forced to call his first time-out with the Bucks down 17-12. But just as the Bucks were looking out of sync on offense, Woods gets lay-up to stop bleeding at 19-14 after Huskers had built a 7 point lead. Then Woods follows with a 3 to bring it down to 19-17. Unfortunately the turnover woes continue as OSU commits their  7th turnover of the game, as we moved to the third media timeout with Nebraska still up 22-19 (7:26).

Luther Muhammad hits a jumper to close the gap to 22-21 then at the 5:20 mark, Woods mops up a rebound after a turnover on a missed lay-up to give the Buckeyes their first lead since the opening bucket. Nebraska calls time out but that did not change the tide as  Andre Wesson gets an under bucket scoop to expand the lead to 25-22 as Huskers are 1-7 in their last seven shots. OSU gets a 5 second call for their 8th TO which takes the game to the final media time-out of the half.

At this point, OSU is up 20-9 on the boards, you get the feeling that if they can just get the turnovers in check, they can win this one. Time will tell if was a mistake to keep Kaleb Wesson on the bench for so long even though he only had 1 foul. Wesson and CJ Jackson have combined for only 2 points so far.

Luther Muhammad remains active on both sides of the floor and gets a steal with a minute to go, expanding the lead to 29-24,  biggest lead for OSU so far which is where the score stood at halftime. OSU up 25-12 on rebounds and 20  of their 29 points were in the paint.  This was in spite of the fact that their leading scoring on had two of those points. Nebraska needed the halftime break, as they were looking very down heading to he lockers.

Halftime stats:  OSU 9 turnovers and only 3 assists. Wesson and Jackson a combined 1-3 for 2 points. OSU only shooting 18% from 3 while Neb is shooting 40%. Keyshawn Woods and Luther Muhammad were the first half stars with 13 points and 8 rebounds.  Nebraska with zero bench points and were outscored 12-2 last 8 minutes. Kaleb Wesson only plays 7 minutes.

It was not a good 2nd half start for the Buckeyes as Nebraska opens with a quick 3 to cut it to 29-27. Kaleb Wesson added two weak attempts and you start to wonder if sitting him so much in the first half will come back to hurt him. Another bucket by Nebraska to tie and Holtmann immediately calls a time out.

The timeout did not help Wesson as he put up another weak shot attempt, making him 1-5 for the game and Holtmann takes him out with 17:22 to go in the game. However is brother Andre quiets the crowd with his own basket to put OSU up 36-34. But again with Kaleb out Nebraska goes inside and ties the game. Very clear Nebraska plans is to go inside as they are taking everything there. At the first media time out of the second half it is 36-36.

Two free throws out of the timeout and it is 38-36 Nebraska grabbing the lead again. But that is where it when south for them. A free throw, a steal, a lay-up and OSU is back on top 40-38. Then a quick inbound play to Luther Muhammad (much like the 2017 finish) and it is 42-38. Kaleb Wesson finally breaks the lid on an easy toss and all of a sudden it is 44-38 Buckeyes.

You can’t keep him from scoring the entire game as Kaleb Wesson hits a three with 10:47 to go to make it 47-41 Ohio State. This was just after he was called for a Hook and Hold foul so you can hope this will kickstart him for the rest of the game.  And the 2-3 zone the Buckeyes were playing was giving the Huskers fits. A 3-pointer by Muhammad makes it 50-41 OSU and you can start to feel this one slipping away for the home team.

Luther Muhammad hits a 3 with one second to go on the shot clock after a great defensive stand by Nebraska making it 53-43. CJ Jackson hits a 3 of his own making in 56-43, capping a 12-3 run for the Buckeyes, Nebraska’s Coach Miles may have waited too long to call time out, as it is 56-43 at the 3rd media timeout (6:28).

The Cornhuskers were not quite ready to go away and two quick 3 point plays cut the lead to just seven points but they could not get it much closer than that.  The end was filled with a lot of those late game fouls that just drag out the inevitable closure. When the clock hit zero, the Buckeyes boasted a 70-60 victory ending their longest losing streak since 1998.

If I may have one moment for some commentary, the coverage of today’s game on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) was absolutely embarrassing. The play-by-play was average at best but the graphics were terrible.  Much of the game they had the score wrong and in some cases even the time clock was wrong.  As you can see from our headline graphic for this article even after they had thrown the coverage back to the studio, they still did not have the final score right, showing a final of 70-59 instead of 70-60 . No excuse for this.

osu-neb score

It will not get any easier as Buckeyes next face #5 Michigan in Ann Arbor, next Tuesday at 9:00 pm EST on ESPN2.

– Gregg Watson

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