COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker to Nebraska on Saturday, 58-57.
With the defeat, the Buckeyes fall to 15-13 on the year and 5-10 in conference play. The Cornhuskers, meanwhile, improve to 12-14 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten.
How it happened
In a game that could hardly be describe as a beauty, Ohio State held the Huskers scoreless for the game’s opening 2-and-a-half minutes. But the Buckeyes failed to to take advantage thanks to an unimpressive offensive start of their own. It took more than 4 minutes for the Buckeyes to make their first field goal of the game, a Marc Loving 3-pointer to give OSU a 6-5 lead at the 15:58 mark of the first half.
Ohio State would stretch its first-half advantage to as many as 11 and appeared poised to control the rest of the contest when a Trevor Thompson jumper gave the Buckeyes a 26-15 lead with 5:39 remaining in the half. Ohio State, however, would proceed to miss its final four field goal attempts of the half before taking a 30-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Buckeyes opened the second stanza on a 5-0 run to push their lead back to double digits, but Nebraska would tie the contest at 43 at the 8:55 mark after a Jack McVeigh 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run over the span of less than 3 minutes. Thompson would put an end to the run on the ensuing possession with a lay-in to regain the lead for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes pushed their lead back to 4 points at the 6:19 mark, but another McVeigh three trimmed it to one 38 seconds later. Ohio State, however, proceeded to reel off a 6-0 run to stretch its advantage to 7 with 3 minutes left in the contest.
A McVeigh lay in cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 54-52 at the 1:30 mark and Nebraska had a chance to tie or take the lead with less than a minute remaining before a Tai Webster travel resulted in a turnover with 44 seconds left on the clock. Loving seemed to seal the game with a 3-pointer to give Ohio State a 5-point lead with 30 seconds remaining, but McVeigh answered back with a trey on the ensuing possession to trim the Huskers’ deficit to two with 24.7 left on the clock.
After forcing a jump ball on the inbound, Nebraska took possession down 2 with 21 seconds left in the game. Guard Glynn Watson Jr. proceeded to get fouled making a layup, converting the 3-point play to give the Huskers their first lead since the 16:24 mark of the first half.
Ohio State forward Jae’Sean Tate proceeded to miss a 3-pointer as time expired.
What it means for Ohio State basketball
Barring an unlikely miracle finish to the season, Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament hopes are likely over. The Buckeyes entered ranked 63rd on noted analytics site, KenPom.com. A loss to a sub-.500 team is only going to push Ohio State further away from the bubble, as the Buckeyes were already on the outside looking in of most NCAA Tournament projections with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Tate led the Buckeyes with 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and first in Big Ten play. Thompson added 13 points and 8 rebounds.
After shooting a combined 15 of 27 and scoring at least 22 points in each of OSU’s previous two outings, Loving was just 3 of 10 from the field against the Huskers. He still managed to score 13 points, however.
Guard Kam Williams was 1 of 7 from the field for 3 points.
The Buckeyes will return to action on Thursday, when they host No. 11 Wisconsin. With a 21-5 overall record and 10-3 mark in Big Ten play, the Badgers can tie Purdue for first place in the conference standings with a win against No. 23 Maryland on Sunday.
Should Wisconsin fall to the Terrapins, however, the Badgers will come to Columbus riding a three-game losing streak following defeats at the hands of Northwestern and Michigan. In their first meeting this season in Madison on Jan. 12, Wisconsin beat Ohio State 89-66, the Buckeyes’ most lopsided defeat of the season.
The Buckeyes and Badgers will tip off at 9 p.m. ET in a game televised on ESPN.