Columbus – Despite Leslee Smith’s third double-double of the season, the Huskers fell at No. 3 Ohio State, 84-53, Saturday afternoon at Value City Arena.
Smith had 11 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season, but a 7-0 Buckeye run to end the first half proved costly, as Nebraska fell to 8-6 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten play.
Nebraska was within 33-30 after a Shavon Shields basket with 2:28 left in the half, but Aaron Craft’s 3-pointer started a 7-0 spurt to close the half to give Ohio State (15-0, 2-0 B1G) a 10-point halftime lead.
Craft finished with nine points, four assists and three steals, as the Buckeyes put five players in double figures and shot 54 percent in the win. Amedeo Della Valle came off the bench to lead OSU with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Marc Loving added 13 off the bench for the Buckeyes.
Terran Petteway joined Smith in double figures with 13 points, but Nebraska shot 38 percent, including just 9-fo-28 after halftime as Ohio State pulled away late. OSU, which shot 54 percent on the day including 9-of-19 from 3-point range, also forced 13 Husker turnovers, leading to 17 Buckeye points.
Nebraska went on an early 8-2 run behind the shooting of Ray Gallegos. The senior, who was held scoreless at Iowa, drained a pair of 3-pointers, the second gave the Huskers an 8-6 lead with 15:17 left in the half. With the score tied at 10, baskets from Shields and Petteway staked the Huskers a four-point lead at 14-10 with 12:55 left in the half.
Ohio State came right back, as two Sam Thompson jumpers started a 9-1 Buckeye run, as Della Valle’s 3-pointer gave the Buckeyes a four-point lead and forced a timeout. Nebraska evened the contest on baskets from Smith and Tai Webster, but a 3-point play from Marc Loving and a 3-pointer from LaQuinton Ross sparked an 8-0 Buckeye run as OSU took a 27-19 lead after a Craft steal and layup.
The Huskers would roar back, as Webster’s 3-pointer started 7-2 Husker spurt, as the visitors got to within 29-26 after a Petteway driving basket. Nebraska would stay close, as Shields’ basket with 2:28 made it 33-30, but that would be the Huskers’ final basket of the half.
Nebraska got off to a quick start offensively in the second half, scoring on three of its first four possessions, cutting the 10-point lead to 44-36 after a Petteway jumper, but on Ohio State’s next possession, Craft hit a long jumper to beat the shot clock to spark a 10-0 Buckeye run. Ross then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead to 54-36 and forced a Husker timeout.
Trailing 56-36, Biggs started the Huskers on a run, scoring six points as Nebraska cut the lead to 58-44 after a pair of Biggs jumpers, as he finished with nine points off the bench.
That would be as close as Nebraska would get, as a driving basket by Craft and a 3-pointer by Della Valle quickly pushed the lead back to 19 and Ohio State remained in control the rest of the night.
The Huskers return to action on Thursday night, hosting Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and televised on ESPN2.
*-Leslee Smith posted his team-high third double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as he made his first start today. It is the fifth time this season he has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game this season.
*-With two 3-pointers, Ray Gallegos moved into ninth place on Nebraska’s career 3-point chart with 129. He also made his 100th career appearance.