Rushed Reactions: #24 Ohio State 71, Nebraska 67Posted by Walker Carey on March 14th, 2014
Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Thursday afternoon’s Big Ten Tournament action between Nebraska and Ohio State in Indianapolis.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Nebraska’s collapse was monumental. How did Nebraska lose a game it was leading by 18 with fewer than 14 minutes to play? First answer: Ohio State outscored the Cornhuskers 41-19 from the 13:45 mark to the end of the game. Nebraska had built its 18-point lead through playing high IQ basketball and making great decisions when it came to shot selection. All of that changed from that point on, as the offense continuously sputtered due to poor decisions and poor execution. Second answer: Nebraska had no idea how to handle Ohio State’s pressure. During the period where it was outscored 41-19, Tim Miles’ squad turned the ball over seven times and five of those giveaways were charged to the team’s two top playmakers, guards Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields. It has been a long time since Nebraska played in a string of important games in March and that inexperience was on prime display during Friday afternoon’s collapse.
- Ohio State deserves a ton of credit. Nebraska certainly deserves a hefty load of blame for its sputtering down the stretch, but Ohio State stepped up and made plays when it could have wilted away and accepted defeat. Junior forward LaQuinton Ross was extremely productive in the second half, as he tallied 18 points and collected eight rebounds. Senior guard Aaron Craft fulfilled his leadership role admirably, as he keyed the Buckeyes’ attack on both ends of the court. This season’s Ohio State squad has not been the most talented offensively, but it showed again Friday that it can defend anyone in the country.
- Nebraska should still earn an NCAA Tournament bid. Yes, a win over Ohio State would have likely locked the Cornuskers in the field of 68, but Nebraska’s résumé entering the Big Ten Tournament should have already had Tim Miles’ squad locked into the Big Dance. The Cornhuskers finished the regular season with an impressive 11-7 record in Big Ten play. They won home games over NCAA Tournament locks Ohio State and Wisconsin, and in addition, they went on the road and beat Michigan State in East Lansing. Even with Friday’s loss, Nebraska has still won eight of its last 10 games in the treacherous and that is an accomplishment that should be appropriately rewarded.
Star of the Game. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State. The junior forward was Ohio State’s consistent source of production all afternoon. Ross finished the game with 26 points and 13 rebounds and seemed to be a nightmare of a match-up for any Nebraska defender. Ohio State is not the most offensively-gifted team, but if it can continue to get solid production from Ross, it can continue to play on this month.
- “We fought, we clawed, and found a way to win the basketball game.” – Ohio State coach Thad Matta, acknowledging the great effort it took for the Buckeyes to emerge victorious.
- “We know there is no 20-point baskets, so we’ve got to take every possession one at a time. We’ve got to get a stop. And once we started doing that, we really got pride in our offense, and that really got us going.” – Ohio State guard Shannon Scott, talking about how the Buckeyes shook off their large deficit and continued to fight.
- “I think we’re a tournament team. I think we’re a team good enough to win in the tournament.” – Nebraska coach Tim Miles, lobbying for his team’s inclusion in the NCAA Tournament.
Sights and Sounds. The crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was decidedly pro-Ohio State and it wholeheartedly voiced its pleasure at the team’s furious second half rally. When the final buzzer sounded, it seemed like the Buckeyes faithful were consumed with a sense of excitement regarding tomorrow’s semifinal showdown with archival Michigan.
Wildcard. Ohio State received a long contribution from sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle. Della Valle, who had not recorded a field goal since February 15, contributed 12 points to the winning effort and hit four huge free throws in the final minute to put the game on ice.
What’s Next. Ohio State advances to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament where it will face top-seeded Michigan on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska now has to wait and see if it is selected for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament.