Buckeyes Punish Huskers

By Chris Lauderback on January 21, 2012 at 9:53p
Getty / Eric FrancisThompson swats 6'11" Jorge Brian Diaz

Playing in Lincoln for the first time since 1987, the Buckeyes once again had little trouble heel-stomping Nebraska 79-45 tonight in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

William Buford led three Buckeyes in double figures with a solid 15 point, zero turnover showing featuring improved shot selection (6/13 FG) and 3/5 from distance. 

Jared Sullinger chipped in 14 points (4/8 FG), five boards and three steals while Deshaun Thomas added 14 points and six rips. 

Fighting through the distraction of one of the ugliest courts in the conference (suggestion: shrink down the “N” about 40% and lay off the Pledge), Ohio State used first half runs of 13-0 and 12-2 in building a 36-20 lead at the break.

Trailing 6-5 in the early going, the Buckeyes soon led 18-8 with 10:01 left in the half.

Despite double and triple teams against a packed in Husker zone, Sullinger was a factor using crisp passes to set up teammates. He found Aaron Craft on a pretty cross court look out of a triple team for three to start the run.

On the next trip, he located a slashing Lenzelle Smith for two before Thomas got involved hitting from his spot on the left block and dropping a triple following a Brandon Richardson miss. Evan Ravenel capped the spurt with a free throw and a man’s offensive board and putback of a Thomas miss.

The Huskers would trim the lead to six on a couple occasions and looked to make a move after Sully picked up his 2nd foul at the 4:05 mark but the Buckeyes responded with the 12-2 blitz to end the half.

Willie B got it started splashing a triple and Thomas added three points while Ravenel continued his solid half off the pine with a bucket in the lane and a buzzer beating jump hook off a well timed dime from Craft from the top of the circle.

The Buckeye defense was effective but it looked like Nebraska’s commitment to sucking was also a factor. The Huskers hit just 7/28 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes including a 1/9 effort from downtown.

Meanwhile, Ohio State was far from scorching hitting 44% including 36% from distance (4/11). Thomas led the effort with 10 points (3/6) while WB added eight points on 3/5 shooting.

The 2nd half looked a whole lot like the 1st as the Buckeyes opened with a 13-5 run to take a 49-25 lead with 14:50 left in regulation.

Buford kicked off the scoring draining a three from the right baseline and three possessions later he found Thomas in transition for a dunk and a 41-20 lead.

Sam Thompson got his rim-on shortly thereafter taking a missed Buford three to dunk city. Buford stayed in the mix putting back his own miss of an aggressive drive down the middle of the lane before Sully polished off the run with a pair of free throws and a follow up dunk of a Buford miss.

The game became an open gym from there with Thompson continue to impress. His athleticism was on display at the defensive end as he picked three blocks and two steals, giving OSU a spark as the definitive first guard off the bench. 

As the first big off the bench, Ravenel also had a strong night especially in the 1st half as it was still somewhat of a game and Sully was saddled with foul trouble. He was difference maker in Sully's absence tallying seven points and four boards.

Oh, and before I forget, Bo Spencer is a whiny chump. I have no idea how he wasn’t T’d up and some point either from punching the basket support, spiking the ball or continuous annoying gestures and gum-flapping at the zebras. His frustration reached stupid level with about 7:20 left as he tomahawked Jordan Sibert in the cornea, his 5th foul, ruled intentional. The disqualification capped a night of 2/8 from the field including 0/5 from distance for eight points, seven below his average. 

For the game, OSU held the Huskers to 29% shooting overall and 18% from deep (3/17) while connecting on 43% of their field goal attempts including 38% (8/21) from downtown. 

The stat of the night has to be 28 turnovers by Nebraska. Ohio State had plenty to do with it but so did Nebraska's inability to consistently dribble and pass at a high school level. 

The win improves OSU to 17-3 overall and moves them into a three way tie for 1st in conference play with a 5-2 mark.  

Next up for the Buckeyes, a hump day home tilt against Penn State at 6:30pm. 



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painterlad's picture

Ah, Cornhusker basketball. What's not to like?

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

awwwwwwop's picture

I think northwestern takes the ugliest court cake. But the btn cameras did Nebraska's no favors

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

I'm on the same page, Chris. Bo Spencer rode Aaron Craft all over the court and treated every whistle like the first he ever heard. Plus Diaz and Talley made a big difference this time around - the Huskers actually played worse.

Corey Carpenter's picture

Ohio State outscored Nebraska 150-85 in the two games. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Nah, the N needs to be larger. It distracts you from how bad the team is.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

baddogmaine's picture

The Buckeyes didn't struggle against a weaker foe, unlike many teams recently. Good for us. Really.

Being the curmudgeon I'm not entirely happy with the way this played out. Aftrer the Indiana game the narrative was that OSU will be really hard to beat if all five guys can score. Well, yes, IF all five guys can score. But going in to the Indiana game only two guys had been scoring reliably: Sully and Thomas. Craft is a true point guard who dishes first, gets most of his points on layups when the defense sags off him, and is better than many point guards but no Kemba Walker on jump shots. Buford has been in a season long slump and can't really be counted on (3 of 5 deep is good againt anyone, 6 - 13 against one of the weaker defenses we will see suggests that he is still not what we need). Early in the season Jordan Siebert showed promise, but that is not being delivered. No one else on the bench seems ready to pick up slack as a scorer.

Which leaves Lenzelle Smith. He has had exactly one game in a 1 1/2 yer career in which he punushed a defense. If Indiana was what he is really capable of then we should be in good shape, but we don't know that. Nebraska was a perfect game to find that out. At half time Motta's instructions should have been to feed Smith and have Smith shoot and see what happens. Ten points on say eight shots in a half would be a good showing. Instead, he reverted to 1-4 overall, 0-3 on 3s in 20 minutes of playing time. Smith's foul trouble was bad news, but until he fouled out (in a game in which we could afford to have him foul out) he should have been kept on the floor because that's the only way to find out what we have.  Smith did not capitaliaze on the chances he had. Which means that with some really tough games ahead of us we still don't have a reliable answer for teams focusing on Sully in particular and Thomas secondarily. We're feeling good about being tied for first in the B1G but we still have two games each with MSU, scUM (who can play defense and are long) and WIS (who don't mind games in the 50s). NW beat the Spartans, a game in Evanston is not a gimme. And then come the bullies from other conferences who will be ready to play against a team that has weaker links offensively.

Tressel did this with his teams - play starters till the end, run what was already working, and it lead to us being unprepared to change game plans. Motta does not have a Lighty who will break down a defense with the game on the line. He doesn't have a Diebler who will make it easier for everyone else in scarlet and grey. What he has is  a team with a great point guard, a great inside presence, and others who have weaknesses. If he doesn't find out if Smith can be another weapon in situations when he can make the test we are going to find ourselves in games when Smith will be our only option and we won't know what will happen. Yesterday's game told us only that our offense-as-usual will work against a B1G bottom feeder. This is still not a team that looks like a serious threat to win more than three games in March. Last year we had a better team and won only two games. Not great teams can move on - Butler last year - but only by maximizing what they have. If we don't develop what we need to when we can we may pay for it.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

It's very common for a player to follow up a career game with a pedestrian effort. Plus we shouldn't expect a 10-12 shooting effort for a player getting meaningful minutes for the first time in his career. What Matta did, and should have done, was to let Smith try to find points in the flow of the offense. Smith took one bad shot (his first) and the rest came in the natural flow. They didnt fall like they did against IU. The fact that he scores better at home right now makes Smith like most players not named Sullinger.

Otherwise, this team will advance based on their ability to play suffocating defense not precision offense. That was last season.

baddogmaine's picture

"Flow of the offense" is something of a meaningless phrase, because how the offense flws depends on how the coach instructs it to flow. I'm not suggesting that Smith should have been a shot hog - I am suggesting that Motta should have designed and run plays for Smith to see what would happen. Does he get open? When open do his teammates find him? When he gets the ball when open does he make the shots? Sullinger takes shots wthin the flow because everone on the floor is instructed to look for him. Smith could have - and should have, in my opinion - been tried as option #2.

I also do not expect 10-12 from anyone ever. I suggested 10 point on eight shots. That sounds more like 1 three, 3 deuces and a FT. That's 4 of 10, roughly. We can live with that from Smith. But with the tough stuff still ahead we still don't know if we can count on it. 1 for 4 by a starter is not even pedestrian (Paul followed up his 43 with 20) and it is not enough.

We do play solid defense. Mostly. We were deplorable againt Indiana and have had problems in stretches in other games too. But this team is not WIS who wins with defense and ball control. This teams plays a tempo designed for high 60s or more. To get that we need more than 15-18 each from Sullinger and Thomas. We need more points even than 15 from Buford as well. We are going to need Smith to contribute against better defenses. That will happen, if it happens at all, only if he gets in-game experience. To bring it back to football the word going in to last season was that with our running backs we'd be fine, Miller only had to hand off and make an occassional play. Predictible offense did not work because even Purdue could load up to stop it. We held MSU to 10 and lost. A basketball offense that has dead spots offensively on the floor could be handled the same way, no matter how good our defense.

When a current game appears to be safe Motta needs to be preparing for the future. I don't think he did a good job of that yesterday, since I don't think gettng everyone into the box score is necessarily the same as developing what is needed.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Flow of the offense is not meaningless. Smith got shots in the flow of the offense because IU doubled off him and he was in a ready offensive position when Sullinger passed out of the double-team. That is what is known as taking shots in the flow of the offense. Smith's first shot last night was a one pass three point attmpt that was not in the flow of the offense. He had decided he was going to shoot before he touched the ball.

As for the number of shots he got, the guy took all of 12 shots in his best college game ever. Expecting eight shots a game is unrealistic. Expecting the coach to design plays for his fourth option is also unrealistic. In fact, your analysis makes me wonder if you've watched this team at all the in the Matta era. They don't run plays for a player, they run a play that creates options...a post move, a kick out, a hand-off. Except for OB plays and alley-oops, OSU doesn't run plays for a specific player. And throwing the ball to the post, which OSU doesn't do enough of, is not the same as running a specific play.

The rotation last night was the best I've seen all season. Ravenal replaced Thomas. Thompson replaced Smith. Later Smith and Thomas replaced Sullinger and Buford (I'm pretty sure). Then Scott replaced Craft. Finally Sullinger and Craft replaced Ravenal and Scott. That is a solid eight-man rotation.

Frankly, I see this team as a work in progress that is being handled very well. You clearly see the opposite, especially given your insistence on misspelling the coach's name. The proof will be in what happens as the season progresses. We'll see.

Squirrel Master's picture

Exactly, we are arguing about the use of a DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST. Smith is not ment to be the offensive catalyst of this team. and doesn't it make sense that an opposing team who just saw what happened in the last game will make adjustments. I didn't see Smith as open last night as I did against Indiana. Indiana wanted to make sure Sullinger wasn't getting the touches and so left Smith very open not expecting it. Nebraska played differently.

It is hard to compare this team to last years because last year was an awesome team that just did not make it as far as it should have. they were a bunch of SENIORS that have been playing together for years. now these kids are trying to figure out how they work together while also learning how to play a college game. they all were the best player on their teams and now need to find their role and as freshmen it takes time.

not to mention we are talking about Nebraska who they whooped earlier. you think anyone of them were pumped to play this game? Matta probably told the starters to be prepared to sit after a while so do what you can cuz he will be subbing alot.


I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

baddogmaine's picture

Of course coaches design shots for players. Time outs generally draw up plays for players. The design calls for a plan B and Plan C in case Plan A doesn't work, but the coach often does direct to what extent a player is part of an offensive scheme. Last year Dallas was not schemed into the offense because his range was about five feet. When open inside he got the ball, but otherwise it went around the outside. That Smith has taken few shots is probably partly a disinclination to shoot, it may also be part of a message that he is a fourth option. SOMETHING is responsible for Thomas taking a zillion shots and Smith very few, and it is not clear to me that the something is either that Thomas moves better without the ball or is better at dribbling into a shot than is Smith. Whether Smith remains a fourth option depends on offensive philosophy. My point is that if Buford continues to struggle; and given how long his slump has lasted it would be unrealistic to rely on it ending soon; the Buckeyes are too easy to defend with just Sullinger and Thomas as scorers.

Teams are going to continue to sag off of Smith. They probably were last night but we got our points anyway against an overmatched opponent. What we need to know is whether Smith's performance v. Indiana was a fluke, or whether it is something we can count on. The only safe way to testr that is to instruct the other four to look for Smith and for Smith to shoot when he is open in games we can afford missed shots in.

This is especially true if Revenel subs in for Thomas to improve defense. Given the points lost from that switch either we now have to win by scoring 60, or we need to get more from the other guys on the floor. One of which is Smith. And Smith will not become a better option if he doesn't get game tested.

Your solid eight-man rotation was against Nebraska. We have not seen that much bench very often this year. Unless the starting five put away PSU early, which we have not always done, or get into foul trouble to force Motta (at this point I'm going to spell his name wrong on purpose, and you can play cranky school teeacher or respond to my thoughts) my guess is the rotation slims back down for our next game.

Squirrel Master's picture

It just seems like you have a major issue with Thomas. I can understand that, just make that point before you go off on the whole team. Also, thomas avg about 10 shots a game. that is not a zillion for what I would consider the true 2nd option behind sullinger. WB just takes way too many bad shots and should really be the 3rd option.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

VestedInterest's picture

wrong...12 and 13 the last 2 games in 64 minutes total. If that's too many shots...I'm Elmer Fudd.l

nickma71's picture


We do play solid defense. Mostly

Ohio States ppg differential is the highest in the NCAA. So why? They have no offense and play only solid defense. Is it because they don't play anybody? Oh wait. The Big Ten is the best confrence in basketball. They lost close road games to very good teams. With a new lineup.

baddogmaine's picture

One more thought. Last year Craft and Sullinger already played tough defense. Buford seems to be the same as last year. We traded Diebler and Lighty  for Thomas and Smith, both of whom are drop offs defensively to a degree. We have no one on the bench who is a defensive stopper. This to me does not appear to be a better defensive team than last year. We can not give up "precision offense" and expect to win with defense primarily with this year's line-up. Our offense will need to be different from last year's - no Diebler means it has to be - but a good coach finds the offensive identity to fit his players. In my opinion how we play offensively this year will define Motta as a coach.

RB's picture

Maybe you should start your own blog.

Squirrel Master's picture

I disagree about dropoffs on D. If you are saying that Smith is a dropoff from Lighty directly then I would agree cuz Lighty was a lights out defender. but if you take Thomas and Smith together with Diebler and Lighty then I think its at least on par. Smith is a great defender and then he has this breakout game on offense and you seem to think he should be able to do that any game? players sometimes have that game where everything clicks. That does not mean they are going to be that good every game. Case in point is Paul at Illinois. Dude is a career 10 ppg player but blows up for 43 against OSU. hIs total for the last 3 games is only 38! So don't take into account what Smith did against Indiana as an omen of what type of player he is.

next, obviously this team is not as good on defense as last year. When you lose SENIORS like Lighty, Lauderdale and Diebler there will be a dropoff. but this team does play good defense when they are clicking. It's hard to gauge the difference between what they did against Ind at home vs what they did against Nebraska on the road. Games are different on the road (hence the 3 loses). You have to take that into account because of crowd noise, officiating and different environment for a team that is no longer a bunch of SENIORS with a star player but now a bunch of SOPHOMORES AND FRESHMEN with a star player. They are finding their game. What needs to happen is they need to find that groove when March comes around. They have the ability, just gotta execute!

oh, and its MATTA NOT MOTTA!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

RBuck's picture

"We have no one on the bench who is a defensive stopper."

Disagree. When Ravenel and Thompson come into the game I don't see much, if any at all, drop-off on the defensive side.

Long live the southend.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

This team is the better defensive team, although Lighty was the single best defensive player of the Matta era. They will win first because of defense. When they shoot well too, they win big. Finding points hasn't been an issue in any game this season, except perhaps Kansas. When OSU has lost the issue has been getting stops and late turnovers.


Squirrel Master's picture

exactly. If you want to say they play sloppy in the loses I can agree with that, but that their defense is not good is just crazy talk.

lets look at the 3 loses btw,

Kansas - Sullinger did not play.

Indiana - baaaaaaaaad officiating across the board!

Illinois - Paul (career 10 ppg) goes off for 43 pts, with hands in his face I might add.

All three loses have been by a total of 19 pts with all those things happening. This is a good team. They just need to clean it up a bit.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

As you said, they are very young and they are still growing. Players are still learning each other's games because their skill sets are expanding. Craft seems to have emerged from a bit of slump. Sullinger looks healthy. Smith is a pleasant surprise. Thomas has grown more than anyone expected. There are more quality bench players than in years. And Buford is Buford - for both good and bad.

They lack experience (which usually leads to more physical and mental toughness), and a lights out shooter. The former will come. The latter would be nice to have, but it's not essential to win.

baddogmaine's picture

Defensive stopper doesn't mean just not losing much, it means improving on defense. I don't agree that Smith + Thomas = Diebler  + Lighty, and I doubt many others will agree with that either. Thomas may be one of the weakest defensive starters of the Matta years, and pairing him with someone not good enough to start last year is not likely to rival the tenacity of the seniors no longer on the team.

We have played five games against teams in the Top 25. Duke and Indiana #2 were clinics in Buckeye bakeball. Kansas ws without Sullinger. In both Illinois and Indiana #1 we lost because our defense failed us. The Indiana freshman center held his own inside because our help defense was not there; Thomas was a matador in the ring. Only Zeller fouled out, the zebras were hurting both sides about equally, and we lost.

Paul probably would have scored that night throwing it in from under his own basket. But he had far too many open looks, and in a rematch of the Hoosier game a center who had done nothing last year held his own on offense.

What this means is that we are 2-3 against good teams. We have a lot more games against good teams yet to come. Against the Badgers we'll find out how we handle back cuts and bulk and a guard who has not had a good year so far but abnsolutely ate us up in Madison last year. MSU is athletic and disciplined. Ditto for scUM, though not quite as skilled as the Spartans. Win those and we can think of April. Struggle in those and it doesn't matter how good our record is, the Jayhawks, Orange, Wildcats Bears etc will be real challenges.

Lastly, we have scored this year. But except for Duke we have not done so against an elite team (and Duke in November was not as good as they are now, their loss to FSU notwithstnding). Kenpom has us #1 in adjusted defense and Pomeroy knows his stuff. But playing a schedule with lts of teams between 15-25 is a lot easier than playing a schedule with a few games against #1-10, and to the extent that we have been tested we have not done so well. I don't think we're a bad team by any means but neither do I think our defense is as good as it needs to be, given that our offense is not as good as it needs to be (#13 Kenpom). Unless we improve measurably on one side or the other I think we are a high seed ready to go down too early, as we did last year with (I thoroughly believe) a better defense.

BuckeyeJim's picture

The defense has been phenomenal at times and the Bucks need to keep that up if they expect to win the B1G. But, I believe that the foul shooting will kill this team down the road. The results could have been different at IU and ILL if this team was better at the foul line.

Neilwoodgables's picture

Somebody should have planted Spencer in the seats after that foul.



This team is soft.  Being soft cost them the kentucky game last year.

I Hate Michigan.



Buckeye06's picture

Oh so OSU should have gotten suspensions for a hard basketball play?  When you put someone "in the seats" then you don't leave your seat for the next 5 games.

Not worth it; I wouldn't have minded the team coming in and getting in his face a little bit but nothing that would warrant a suspension.

Neilwoodgables's picture

We can agree to disagree on how the players should have reacted but I am happy to see that you didnt rebuke the fact that this team is soft.

I Hate Michigan.



Squirrel Master's picture

I'll rebuke it. I didn't see them play soft against Duke! They played their asses off against Kansas without Sullinger. and to say they played soft against Nebraska, come on. If players from Nebraska want to get chippy and try something, why should players from OSU care. They are better than them in all facets. Sullinger is not soft. he takes a beating and by the way, Harrelson was basically giving Sullinger the prison treatment last year in that Kentucky game. I saw so many swipes at Sullinger that was not called. it was totally a BS game and yet OSU could have still won that game at the end.

Craft and Sully are not soft when you compare this team to last year. I definitely rebuke that! If you want to call Buford soft then I may have to agree.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

RBuck's picture

Wasn't impressed with the offense much last night...not crisp and sloppy. The defensive effort was tremendous after the first TO. What impressed me the most was Ravenel's defense... just smothering.

Long live the southend.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

I asked this before, but I realize it's probably a very hard question for any of us to answer, but if someone does I would REALLY like to know.


What happened to LaQuinton Ross? I know he came in late, we have an abundance of young talent which makes it hard to see the floor, plus our bench PT is usually low to begin with due to Matta's style, but he was supposed to be the best player in this freshman class. All everyone raved about was his ability to shoot the 3 ball and score effectively, which is exactly what this team needs come tournament time, especially if Buford doesn't get his confidence back.


Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

awwwwwwop's picture

He didnt practice or play with the team until December because he was ineligible.  He is way behind on his defense, team play, and overall conditioning.  Which is why he isn't playing.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

LouGroza's picture

Really confusing officiating again. Thought they were going to let them play the way the first few minutes went. Then it began to get called a little closer until it became the Indiana game. Hope they (refs) can get it together...quickly. Hate to see officials dictate the games.

VestedInterest's picture

LOL...seems like a lot of disection going on here for a 34 point blowout against inferior competition in an over officiated game.

moopdawg's picture

I agree.  Being that we blew a team out by 34 on their home floor, one game after their biggest win of the season, the disection here is pretty intense!!  IF this team gels by March, they can make a really good run at the tournament.  All of the pieces are there.  The challenge is putting the pieces together for every game by March Madness.

Rather_Be_Golfing's picture

I agree with Moop.  I cannot get over all the comments from last night's effort.  We were focused, did whatever we wanted.  Buford played good, Thomas is a machine, and Sully was Sully.  

Thompson is solid off the bench.  I like his development so far.  Wish he had more offense.  Scott is fine, needs a little confidence on his shot.  But the dude is a scorer, you can just tell.  He is coming along.

Bottom line.  We are still the best in Big 1G, and we have a huge upside.  If and I think when the kids gel towards the B1G tournament, we are 1 of 4 teams that can win it all.  As long as Sully, Craft, Buford, and Thomas are there, we are a tough team to play against in the tournament.  You have to remember we are playing conference games which is a lot different than others.

People forget how well we played at Kansas without Sully.  That place is next to impossible to win at.  Our domination over Duke, enough said.  And a whooping of Florida who is a solid team in the SEC.

Be confident buckeye hoopster fans, we will make a serious run this year.


VestedInterest's picture

I'm a little despondent with the criticism of Buford. Last game he shoots 5/12 and is a disappointment in 37 minutes. Yesterday he is 6/13 and all is well lol. Maybe Willy B isn't the leader we all expect he should be but the bottom line is that he doesn't need to be when we have 3 players that avg. 15+ a game.

We ALL want WB to do well but it isn't the fulcrum on which the season pivots imo.

johnblairgobucks's picture

11 games and 2 tournamens to go, till we find out. 

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

"Nebraska's commitment to sucking".... Yet another example of why I come here 12x per day.