Lincoln - A strong second-half effort wasn't quite enough to lift the Nebraska basketball team to an upset of 11th-ranked Ohio State, as the Huskers dropped a 63-56 decision to the Buckeyes Saturday night in front of a crowd of 11,478 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Huskers made the Buckeyes (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten) work for the win, as Nebraska whittled down a 15 point deficit to five and had a chance to make it a one-possession game. Nebraska was down 58-53 with 1:40 left, and the Huskers had a pair of good looks but were unable to convert, the last being on a 3-point attempt from Brandon Ubel.
Ohio State held the Huskers at bay from the foul line, going 5-of-6 in the final minute to thwart Nebraska's upset bid, as part of a 23-of-28 day for the Buckeyes from the charity stripe. Nebraska, despite out-rebounding OSU 38-33, was able to get to the line just five times in falling to 11-12 on the year and 2-8 in Big Ten play.
David Rivers led three Huskers in double figures with 13 points, including 11 in the second half, while Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. led Ohio State with a season-high 21 points, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-3 from long range. NU held Deshaun Thomas, who was the Big Ten's leading scorer, in check with 15 points while Aaron Craft added 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Huskers fell behind early, as the Buckeyes used a 9-0 spurt to build and early 12-3 advantage after a 3-point play from Smith. Nebraska fought back behind solid play off the bench, as Andre Almeida and Benny Parker led the Huskers on a 13-2 run to give the Huskers their first lead of the day. Almeida had four blocks and three blocked shots in the first half to help hold OSU scoreless for a seven-minute stretch, while Parker hit consecutive baskets to give Nebraska a 16-14 lead.
Nebraska took a 19-17 lead on Gallegos' second 3-pointer of the night, but OSU came right back with 11 unanswered points to regain the lead. The run included a pair of conventional 3-point plays before LaQuinton Ross' 3-pointer with 2:07 left in the half staked the Buckeyes an 11-point lead.
The Huskers made an effort to get the ball inside in the opening minutes of the second half, as Brandon Ubel scored six quick points to help trim an 11-point deficit to 35-29. The Huskers were within 38-32, but OSU would take control with a 15-6 run to build its largest lead of the evening at 53-38 after a pair of Craft foul shots with 9:06 left.
Rivers got the Huskers going with a jumper to start a 6-0 run to pull the hosts within 53-44 with 6:10 left. After a Smith 3-pointer for the Buckeyes, Gallegos responded with a 3-pointer before another Rivers jumper cut the Buckeye advantage to seven points, where it would remain for the final minutes.
Nebraska returns to action next Saturday, Feb. 9, when the Huskers host Penn State Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 800-8-BIGRED or Huskers.com.