Ohio State Finds Its Footing Again With Rout of Nebraska

By Tim Shoemaker on February 26, 2015 at 10:37 pm
Jae'Sean Tate makes a move inside vs. Nebraska
Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire

When asked if playing at home made a difference after Ohio State's 81-57 win over Nebraska on Thursday night, Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta sat back in his chair and gave a wry smile before answering the question.

“It was nice to have a shootaround in our own building today," Matta said with a grin. "That was the first nice start of the day."

After all, it had been a while since Matta and his team had been on their home floor.

Before Thursday's game against the Cornhuskers, Ohio State had played just one game at the Schottenstein Center since Jan. 29. The Buckeyes played four of their previous five games on the road with a Feb. 11 win over Penn State the only home game in that stretch.

Needless to say when they took the floor against Nebraska, it was nice being back in a familiar setting.

"It definitely feels good to be home, it feels like we haven’t been home in forever but I just think the team buckled down," said freshman forward Jae'Sean Tate, who scored a career-high 22 points in the win. "We needed this win and we just came together and started playing Ohio State basketball.”

Boy, did they ever.

The Buckeyes, who were coming off back-to-back losses for the first time all year, used a 12-0 run in the first half to take command of the game and never looked back.

Tate, Sam Thompson (15 points), Shannon Scott (13 points) and D'Angelo Russell (11 points) gave Ohio State four players in double-figures as it shot 54 percent from the field and made 11 of 19 attempts from behind the 3-point line. 

"I thought our guys came out and the things that we talked about, our pace on offense and our activity on defense, they did a really, really nice job with that," Matta said.

With New York Knicks president Phil Jackson in attendance, sitting directly behind the scorer's table to watch the star freshman Russell, it was Tate who stood out more than anyone on the floor. The freshman from nearby Pickerington made his first seven shots from the field and also grabbed seven rebounds.

“I just think that just comes from heart. I’ve got pride and I take it personal and I like a challenge," Tate said. "When people say that I look at it as a challenge and not as a bad thing. I just go out there and play hard."

Russell left the game with 12:44 left to play and Ohio State ahead by 14 due to cramping in his left leg and did not return. The Buckeyes didn't really need him on this night, though.

Instead, they used a total team effort to hand Nebraska its sixth-straight loss. Ohio State, on the other hand, remains alive for one of the Big Ten's top four seeds in the conference tournament with the win. The Buckeyes host Purdue — one of the teams they're chasing for one of those spots — on Sunday.

“You feel good, but in the same way that you have to recover from a loss you have to put the wins behind us," Thompson said. "It obviously feels good to win, it feels better than it does to lose, but Purdue doesn’t care that we just won by 25. We’ve gotta have a few good days of practice and come ready to play on Sunday.”

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