A little bit of fight can go a long way.
Nebraska’s chances at winning this game were over pretty early in this one, but the Huskers gave a solid effort from start to finish against a superior opponent.
The Buckeyes had previously beaten Villanova by 25 and Penn State by 32 in the Value City Arena, and this game could have ended similarly had players given up in the final 10 minutes. Instead, the players who were granted playing time made the most of it, fighting for rebounds and taking mostly smart shots.
That effort was rewarded by the 23-point deficit getting cut to 12 points, a respectable finish granted the scenario. Regardless of the outcome, at this point in a lost season the most valuable commodity for a coach is teachable film. There’s a lot more of it when players actually try.
The return of Jervay Green was encouraging.
Nebraska’s junior guard logged his first minutes in a Big Ten Conference game in the second half when he checked in. He rewarded Hoiberg’s gamble by scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
It’s no guarantee for any future playing time, but it’s the first positive result for the struggling junior in over a month.
It has to be fairly sobering for an athlete that has been one of the best players on his team for his entire life to have his playing time taken away, and see the team actually get better. If Green can transform his game and do what his coaches ask of him, he could still turn into the key piece on this team that he was expected to be.
Ohio State once again used a struggling Nebraska team to get its season back on track.
For the second straight season, the Buckeyes snapped a four-game losing streak in January with a convincing win over the Huskers. This year’s outcome was much more predictable though.
Ohio State was playing short-handed, with key guards Luther Muhammed and Duane Washington both suspended for the game, but still managed to restart its dormant offense. The Buckeyes had desirable shots all over the court and converted them the entire game, shooting 55 percent from the field and 10-22 from 3-point range.
At 2-4, the Buckeyes are far from out of the Big Ten race. They’ve proven that they can beat some of the best teams in the country with wins over Villanova and Kentucky, but an inconsistent offense that topped 60 points for the first time in almost a month is a worrisome sign for things to come.
The road struggles in the Big Ten continue to be astounding.
There have been 38 conference games this season. The visiting team has won five of those games.
Neither Ohio State nor Nebraska have won on the road. Only Wisconsin has won multiple conference road games so far. There is a significant amount of parity in the conference this year, and I would expect this trend to continue for at least a few weeks more.
This trend may last most of the winter for Nebraska.
Saturday night has the potential to be a memorable one in Lincoln.
There may not be many positive memories for Fred Hoiberg’s first Nebraska team, but there is a prime opportunity for one this weekend.
The Huskers get a rare Saturday night primetime home game against a quality opponent, one they took to overtime just over a month ago. With a strong several days of film watching and practice, the potential for a memorable win in front of a big crowd is there.