Buckeye Tailspin Continues with Loss to Nebraska
By Rob Ogden
Sunday, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said there was only one way the Buckeyes could go after a third-consecutive loss: up. Turns out, he was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
It didn't get any better for the Buckeyes Monday night in Lincoln, Neb. as they dropped their fourth-consecutive game, losing 68-62 to Nebraska, previously winless in Big Ten play.
Just sixteen days earlier, on Jan. 4, the then-No. 3 Buckeyes defeated the Cornhuskers by 31 points in Columbus. Four losses later, and Ohio State could be unranked when the polls are released next week.
Nebraska hadn't won since Dec. 21.
The Cornhuskers shot 50 percent from the floor and held the Buckeyes to 39.9 percent, including 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
Nebraska used a 13-0 run to take a 9-point lead at the half. Seniors Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. and junior LaQuinton Ross combined for 6-first half points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Buckeyes were outscored 20-6 in the paint in the half, a problem that has persisted during the losing streak.
But Matta's team stormed back after halftime, and used an 18-2 run to retake the lead. Ohio State shot 46.4 percent from the floor in the second half but only 25 percent from 3. They outscored the Cornhuskers 20-12 in the paint after halftime.
Craft led the Buckeyes with 12 points, Ross added 11 and Smith had 10. The three combined to shoot 8-for-29 from the floor. The turnover troubles persisted for Craft who had 4 giveaways compared to three assists. He has 19 in his past four games.
For the second consecutive game, center Amir Williams made little impact. The junior finished with four points and three rebounds.
The Buckeyes have been outscored 120-80 in the paint during their past three losses.
The loss, arguably the worst of the Thad Matta era, marks Ohio State's first four-game losing streak since the 2007-08 season.
It drops the Buckeyes four games out of first place in the Big Ten, likely ending their any chance at a Big Ten regular season championship.
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