Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes made Nebraska's first Big Ten trip to Columbus (Ohio) a forgettable one on Tuesday night after the Ohio State Sophomore dropped 19 points and 12 rebounds in limited minutes to get the Buckeyes (14-2, 2-1) back in the win column with a 71-40 win over Nebraska (8-6, 0-3).
DeShaun Thomas had 15 points after going 7-9 from the field and William Buford had 13 points as the Buckeyes rebounded from a disappointing road loss in Bloomington (Ind.), a loss that dropped the Buckeyes from No. 2 to No. 7 in the polls.
The Huskers would have been in for a tough match at full strength but had to go for another game (and potentially for the remainder of the season) without two of their top players in Jorge Diaz and Dylan Talley. Toney McCray led NU with 13 points but was cold from the field going 5-14 and Bo Spencer had ten points but he was 5-15 from the field as well. Overall the Huskers went 16-52 from the field and 2-18 from outside the arc.
"I think we played defensively with the intensity that we needed to play with in tonight's game," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "The things we were able to do tonight, we felt like we were where we needed to be and keeping pressure on the ball was big for us. Offensively, with the exception of three-point shooting and turnovers, we did what we needed to do and had the right intensity."
The outcome of Tuesday's game was never really in doubt and the Buckeyes had the opportunity to do a lot more in the game but both the starters and reserves made a lot of mistakes along the way. The Buckeyes turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 19 times against the Huskers and that led to 21 of NU's 40 points.
"We were pretty careless with the ball - 19 turnovers," Buford said. "Our defense was really the key tonight. You just have to learn from your mistakes when you watch film. Last week, against Indiana, we were also careless with the ball and didn't value our possessions, so that's something we need to focus on."
No Buckeye starter played more than 28 minutes in the game and even with the extended minutes for the Buckeye bench, the rest of the team only put up a total of 15 minutes during that stretch and six of those belonged to J.D. Weatherspoon. The Buckeye reserve brought down the house with one of his patented alley-oop slams when the game was well out-of-hand? but the Buckeyes will not be able to count on having extended reserve time in many Big Ten games this season.
The Bucks go back on the road on Saturday to take on Iowa (9-6, 1-1), a Hawkeye team that is fresh off of stunning Wisconsin in its own building on New Year's Eve.