It was an eventful week for the Ohio State basketball program, which took an extended road trip from New Jersey to Illinois to New York, and returned home with three wins.
Monday night back at the Schottenstein Center, they looked like a group suffering from a collective case of jet lag.
The Buckeyes, who were voted the #13 team in the nation earlier in the day in the AP Poll, played from behind for nearly 13 straight minutes before coming back for a 64-59 win. OSU is now 18-4 overall, and alone in first place in the Big Ten with a 9-0 conference record.
Nebraska didn’t exactly come out on fire, but had a 14-7 lead after Jordy Tshimanga knocked down a jumper.
However, unlike other unfortunate Tshimanga-fueled incidents in OSU history that threatened perfect Big Ten records, the Buckeyes were able to come back this time.
Keita Bates-Diop hit a jumper to start the rally. After the teams traded free throws, Jae’Sean Tate’s layup cut the deficit to one, and Bates-Diop threw down a dunk to give the Bucks their first lead at 17-16.
C.J. Jackson scored his first points of the game to give OSU a 21-20 lead with a reverse layup, then helped the Buckeyes jump back ahead at 24-22 lead with a three-pointer off a nice dish from Tate to close the first-half scoring. It was the only three-ball the Buckeyes hit in their first 10 attempts from behind the arc.
After the break, OSU seemed to be poised to pull away, but Nebraska’s James Palmer, Jr. wouldn’t let it happen.
Bates-Diop threw down a dunk to make it 46-41 Buckeyes, but the Huskers came back as Palmer hit a three to tie it at 46, then another to give Nebraska a 49-46 lead.
But just when it looked like it was going to be Palmer’s night, Bates-Diop took control. He threw down a dunk, then hit a layup to key a 14-5 run that proved to be the difference. Jackson capped that streak when he hit a floater in the paint and drew a foul to give OSU a 60-54 lead.
The Buckeyes used some lock-down defense to force a Nebraska shot clock violation with 1:35 left, and Tate hit a layup with 1:08 left to give OSU some breathing room.
Bates-Diop finished with 20 points, Tate had 17 and Jackson and Kaleb Wesson added 12 each to power a balanced attack. Palmer finished his impressive night with 34 points for Nebraska on 11-for-18 shooting.
Ohio State now stands alone atop the Big Ten standings with a 9-0 record, half a game ahead of 8-0 Purdue.
The Buckeyes return to the court Thursday night at home against Penn State.