After a huge 20 point victory over No. 25 Michigan last Thursday, the Huskers really needed another win over a top 25 ranked team in No. 13 Ohio State for their NCAA tournament resume. Although the Huskers move to 1-6 on the road this season, this game was in no means a “must-win”, for those games start now.
Right off the bat this game had the feel of a defensive type of night, with both teams a combined 1-of-11 from the field at the U16 media timeout. It went like that for a little longer, then Jordy Tshimanga came in.
Tshimanga provided a spark right away, getting an offensive rebound and putting it back up for a basket, then making a jump hook on the baseline during the next possession. Unfortunately Tshimanga got called for two “fouls” and had to come out after playing for just two minutes.
Nebraska led 14-7 at the U12 media timeout, but it felt like the lead could’ve been much larger for the Huskers, who were a tough 2-of-10 from three point land. Those woes would continue all throughout the game, finishing 8-of-29.
The lead would be short lived, as another infamous Nebraska scoring drought would haunt the players, failing to make a basket for more than six minutes. Somehow the Huskers led at the U4 media timeout, but would ultimately go into halftime losing by two.
The second half started the same way the first half did, a back-and-forth affair with no team able to jump out to an establishing lead. Then out of nowhere the game turned into a shootout, mainly between James Palmer Jr. and Keita Bates-Diop.
With the score at 38-38 with 12 minutes to go, each team’s next eleven points would come from only Palmer and Bates-Diop. Palmer made the three ball while Bates-Diop just bullied his way in the post to easy lay-ins.
Nebraska took the 54-53 lead with 4:30 minutes to go after an Anton Gill three, but Ohio State put their foot on the gas. The Buckeyes proceeded to go on an 11-2 run to seal the deal, courtesy of clutch free throws and bad offensive possessions from the Huskers. The game would end 64-59, but for the final four minutes it seemed like this game was going to come down to a buzzer beater.
Without Palmer, the Huskers wouldn’t have come even close to beating the Buckeyes. Palmer scored a career high 34 points while no other Huskers scored in double digits. Palmer throughout the entire game did whatever he wanted to and succeeded, whether that was driving or making a tough three.
Next time out Nebraska faces the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this Wednesday, and then back at home for Saturday night game against Iowa. The Huskers should be able to win these next two games, but Nebraska on the road is always a toss up.