The final score will indicate not much has changed since this time last year...and the year before that. The Huskers have traveled to play Ohio State in the early days of the year each of the past two seasons and each time they’ve left with big losses. Dig a little deeper and you will see it wasn’t quite the same as those past two defeats, but in the end, it was another trip to Columbus at the start of the conference schedule and yet another 30-ish point loss. It’s becoming something of a tradition.
The Huskers, after taking an early 14-10 lead, traded punches with Ohio State, trailing only 33-30 with 1:23 to go in the first half, but the Huskers are still very much a work in progress, relying on a bunch of new players to the program with limited experience. That was never more evident then in these final moments of the first half. The Huskers were facing some foul trouble and hoping to sneak into the break within striking distance. Miles put his starters on the bench and went with an ultra young lineup including little used David Rivers, who hadn’t played in more than a month and Nate Hawkins, who only saw his first action four games ago. Ohio State ratcheted up the pressure and did what they do. They sped up the Husker offense, forcing contested shots and turnovers to finish the half on a 7-0 run. It was elementary from there as the Buckeyes pressure wilted the Husker upset efforts before the final score of 84-53.
One of Nebraska’s biggest struggles this season has been rebounding. Coming into the game the Huskers were 234th in rebounding. Since conference play, and even vs. Cincinnait last week, the Huskers have done a much better job on the boards. Versus Iowa, the second best rebounding team in the country, the Huskers actually outrebounded the Hawkeyes. Today, vs. OSU, who isn’t on Iowa’s level, is still much better than NU, the Huskers were outrebounded by one, 33-32. The Huskers are doing a better job of ending possessions and keeping their opponent of the offensive glass. This will be an important part of NU’s improvement as they look to continue to climb the Big Ten ranks.
Nebraska did get another solid game from Leslee Smith and Deverell Biggs who are asserting themselves as building blocks for this team this year and next. This was another positive step for Tai Webster who is starting to play with more aggressiveness and deciveness since after hitting, seemingly rock bottom vs. The Citadel. Terran Petteway is turning into one of the more reliable players in the Big Ten as well, having another big game for the Huskers. Nebraska will have to continue to have some of those secondary players develop if they’re going to take the next step and compete in these games and eventually win them.
After three road games in seven days, the Huskers will return home Thursday night for their first home game in nearly three weeks as they host the Michigan Wolverines, last year’s NCAA tournament runners up.