After a demoralizing loss to Iowa at home last weekend, Tim Miles barred his team from using its luxurious locker room at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., until further notice. He chained the doors shut and called the move to do so a "less than punitive" response to what he perceived as a lack of effort in a 28-point loss to the Hawkeyes Sunday.
Miles, the sometimes unorthodox Nebraska coach who is known to tweet at halftime of games, told reporters he hoped it would galvanize the Cornhuskers, which haven't won in 23 days. He also joked, on Monday during the Big Ten coaches teleconference, that joked redemption could be sought if his club held D’Angelo Russell, the Ohio State star freshman guard, scoreless.
This did not work.
Instead, the Buckeyes crushed Nebraska, 81-57, Thursday night at the Schottenstein Center and snapped a two-game losing streak that seemed to refute the notion that Ohio State had turned a corner with the season waning.
|28-52 (54)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||22-51 (43)|
|11-19 (58)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||6-19 (32)|
|14-22 (64)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||7-14 (50)|
On this night, however, coach Thad Matta's club returned to an old form, one that had kindled a strong February stretch that breathed much life into its postseason hopes, against one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
After a clumsy outing against Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday, Ohio State made 10 of its first 14 shots. It was the beginning of an outing that saw it shoot 54 percent from the floor and make 11-of-19 tries from 3-point range. Ohio State, which led by as many as 25 points, controlled the contest from buzzer-to-buzzer.
Nebraska, which has, by most accounts, been a disappointment in Miles' third season, played as if molasses had been glued to their sneakers and fell into a 25-12 hole to start the game. They did not shoot the ball particularly well (42 percent) and turned it over 11 times to suffer their sixth-straight loss.
Speaking of people who have witnessed bad basketball this season, Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks president and former NBA coaching behemoth, sat courtside to presumably watch Russell, who has emerged as one of the nation’s most electrifying players. As the Knicks wobble through a memorably miserable campaign, it is expected they will be in contention for one of the league’s top draft picks next summer and Russell, who can declare after this season, could be an option to remedy the downtrodden franchise.
Yet it was Jae'Sean Tate, the freshman forward inserted into the starting lineup a month ago, who led the Buckeyes on this night, scoring 22 points. Sam Thompson, the high-flying, dunking senior forward, added 15 points. Shannon Scott, the senior point guard, had 13 and Russell, who has been modest of late, scored 11 points.
As the regular season nears an end, Ohio State plays Purdue Sunday in Columbus before a trip to Penn State and finale against league leader Wisconsin.