LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Jan. 2)–The Nebraska men’s basketball team fought back from an eight-point second-half deficit and had a chance to win in regulation, but No. 13 Ohio State took control in overtime to earn an 87-79 win over the Huskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena Sunday evening.
Nebraska trailed 59-51 with just over 10 minutes remaining before mounting a comeback. The Huskers used a 15-3 spurt to take a 66-62 lead after five straight points from Derrick Walker, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year.
The Huskers eventually led 72-67 with 36 seconds left after a Mayen dunk, but the Buckeyes came back. Jamari Wheeler’s 3-pointer made it a two-point game. Mayen than missed a pair of free throws to give OSU a final chance in regulation. E.J. Liddell hit a pair of free throws with 8.9 seconds left to tie the game, and NU was unable to get the winning bucket in regulation as Webster missed a short jumper while Walker’s offensive putback was blocked away in the buzzer.
The Buckeyes took control early in OT, as 3-pointers from Wheeler and Meechie Johnson Jr. pushed the Buckeye lead to 78-72 with 3:36 left. NU cut the deficit to 78-75 on a Bryce McGowens’ 3-pointer, but could not cut into the Buckeyes’ lead.
Malaki Branham led Ohio State with a career-high 35 points including six 3-pointers, as he was one of three Buckeyes to score in double-figures. Wheeler added 16 points, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, while Liddell had 10 points.
Bryce McGowens, who led the team with 18 points, was one of three Huskers to finish in double-figures. Derrick Walker recorded 15 points, while C.J. Wilcher added 13 points off the banch, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
Nebraska’s defense forced six turnovers in the opening nine minutes of play, but Ohio State jumped out to an early 14-6 lead. NU roared back, using an 10-0 spurt to build a 16-14 lead after a three-pointer from Wilcher with 9:05 left in the opening half.
Ohio State used a 5-0 run to retake the lead before Wilcher drained another three to tie the game at 19 with 7:42 to go in the half. The visitors applied the pressure again and grabbed an eight-point lead with 4:56 remaining.
The Huskers responded as they used a second 10-0 spurt to reclaim the advantage at 32-30 with under two minutes to go after a pair of McGowens’ free throws, but the Buckeyes scored the next four points to take the 34-32 lead at the break.
NU tied the game at 44 with 14:15 left in the game after an Alonzo Verge Jr. second-chance layup, but the Buckeyes then used a 7-2 run to take a 51-46 lead. Nebraska kept it close before Ohio State stretched the lead back to eight with 10:38 to go, but the Huskers responded.
Nebraska rattled off eight consecutive points off treys from Kobe Webster and Keisei Tominaga and a layup from Eduardo Andre to tie the game at 59 with 8:32 to go. The Huskers trailed 62-61 before Walker scored five straight points as the Huskers took a 66-62 lead.
The Huskers will continue conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 5, as they travel to Michigan State. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and will the game will be aired on Big Ten Network.